Baylor College Medical School

Crusoe follows a regular schedule and carefully plans each new project. What do you think Defoe is saying about the use of reason to solve problems? Why?

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Nov. 4 This morning I began to order my times of work, of going out with my gun, time of sleep, and time of diversion; (for example), every morning I walked out with my gun for two or three hours, if it did not rain; then employed myself to work till about eleven o'clock; then ate what I had to live on; and from twelve to two I lay down to sleep, the weather being excessive hot; and then, in the evening, to work again. The working part of this day and the next was wholly employed in making my table, for I was yet but a very sorry workman: thought time and necessity made me a complete natural mechanic soon after, as I believe they would any one else......

Nov. 17...Three things I wanted exceedingly...a pickaxe, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, or basket; so I desisted from my work, and began to consider how to supply that want, and me some tools. As for a pickaxe, I made use of the iron crows, which were proper enough, thought heavy; but the next thing was a shovel or spade; this was so absolutely necessary, that, indeed, I could do nothing effectually without it; but what kind of one to make I knew not.

Nov 18...The next day, in searching the woods, I found a tree of that wood, or like it, which, in the Brazils, they call the iron tree, from its exceeding hardness: of this, with great labour, and almost spoiling my axe, I cut a piece;

and brought it home, too with difficulty enough, for it was exceeding heavy. The excessive hardness of the wood, and my having no other way, made me a long while upon this machine: for I worked it effectually, by little and little, into the form of a shovel or spade; the handle exactly shaped like ours in England, only that the broad part having no iron shod upon it at bottom, it would not last me so long: however, it served well enough for the uses which I had occasion to put it to; but never was a shovel, I believe, made after that fashion, or so long in making.

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Obviously, Dafoe is telling us that it takes reason and patience to solve our problems. Crusoe's actions were based upon deep thought; he couldn't afford to make a mistake. He didn't have anyone to help him, and he had no way of replacing those things he already possessed. He had to use his noggin, conserve his strength and energy, and prepare for the unexpected.