Descartes on Open Knowledge and Human Perfection




Descartes, open knowledge, open education, universities, university libraries, teachers, intellectual volunteering, improvement of human nature


Purpose. The purpose is to justify the validity of interpreting Descartes’ teachings as an enquiry into the search for forms and means of improving human nature, which implies a focus on the way he understands the openness of knowledge and education. The problem is considered from the perspective of representatives of university communities (teachers and librarians), historically included in the communication structure and system of the institution, including through the creation, management, use, preservation and dissemination of knowledge. Theoretical basis. One of the tenets of Descartes’ teachings is his desire to improve the human being. For our consideration, it is fundamentally important that Descartes uses "knowledge" not only in a narrow sense – as natural scientific knowledge, but also in a broader sense. In the context of the theme of the study, the most important case is when the thinker recalls the knowledge that every person experiences without referring to philosophy. It is this knowledge that, for Descartes, is key in resolving the central problem of his ethics – how can human nature be perfected? For our consideration of Descartes’ key points, it is fair to focus on the manifestation of the phenomenon of altruism in Descartes’ philosophy and on the representative fact of his inner openness – his willingness to engage in dialogue. He appreciates and encourages his interlocutors to turn to books, which are a form of representation of the vivid personalities of their authors. Originality. For the first time in the research literature, the thesis of René Descartes as one of the forerunners of the open knowledge system is substantiated. The arguments are given for the validity of Descartes’ interpretation of the demand of his own epoch for the search of effective forms of human improvement. Conclusions. The idea of justification of Descartes’ philosophical legacy as a predictor of open knowledge became possible under the condition of paying attention to the anthropological turn he made and finding substantive analogues of openness, including open education. Drawing on Christianity as the basis for altruism, Descartes demonstrates a caring attitude towards the achievements of previous generations on the path of personal self-development. His attention is rightly drawn to education and books as representations of vibrant personalities. Their authentic and productive assimilation is possible only under the condition of a caring attitude towards the public good, which involves the intellectual volunteering of teachers and librarians. It is about self-realization through altruistic self-improvement, i.e. intellectual charity, which is especially evident today during martial law in Ukraine and is voluntary, conscious and free work for the benefit of others.


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How to Cite

Kolesnykova, T. O., & Malivskyi, A. M. (2022). Descartes on Open Knowledge and Human Perfection. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, (22), 14–25.