Jan Palkoska

SUMMARY

Mathesis universalis and the Universal Method in Descartes

The aim of the study is to assess the merits of a common assumption that the project of *Mathesis universalis*, announced by Descartes in Rule IV of his *Regulae*, could shed light on Descartes’s notoriously unclear and controversial project of universal method of cognition, and by implication on his general notion of human rationality at work. The strategy is to consider three generic and mutually conflicting interpretations of what exactly Descartes meant by *Mathesis universalis* in the *Regulae*, and to draw consequences concerning the professed connection between *Mathesis universalis* and the project of universal method in Descartes. I argue that far from being co-extensive with either the project of mathematical articulation of material reality or the project of universal method of discovery, *Mathesis universalis* is just another name for Descartes’s peculiar notion of general algebra as the fundamental discipline in the field of mathematics; and that this being so, the prospects of clarification of universal method in Descartes via his notion of *Mathesis universalis* are dark.