Essay on Descartes' Epistemology

Words: 1720
Pages: 7

Carefully explain Descartes’ cogito and his attempt to build his knowledge structure from the ground up. (Be as succinct as possible.) Does Descartes succeed or fail in that attempt? Justify your answer in full.
Descartes’ Epistemology
This essay attempts to explain Descartes’ epistemology of his knowledge, his “Cogito, Ergo Sum” concept (found in the Meditations), and why he used it [the cogito concept] as a foundation when building his structure of knowledge. After explaining the concept I give a brief evaluation of his success in introducing and using this cogito as a foundation. Finally, I provide reasons why I think Descartes succeeded in his epistemology.
The First
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In my perspective, the “Evil Demon” has the ability to deceive us to a certain point, that point is our existence, and we have established that our existence leads to thinking. Descartes supposed that the ‘Evil Demon” may have influenced our thoughts but the thought he [Evil Demon] could not alter is the thought of us thinking. For example, if I were to throw a plastic ball into a recycle bin and it were melted and reshaped into a mug, although the state of the ball may have changed it is still plastic and even if we discard its previous state its present state shows that it is indeed existing and I cannot convince the plastic that it never existed just because it is in a different state. This example explains how our definition of existence may have changed but the fact remains that we exist hence we think. My example is another way of stating Descartes’ wax example(Descartes,1984:20-21), which according to Blackburn, he [Descartes] uses to confirm that with the cogito we can solidify that our thoughts exist regardless of them being immaterial, various and not constrained to a physical body (Blackburn, 2001:21).
A second question could be, if we know(or supposedly accept) that we are being deceived by the “Evil Demon”… wouldn’t that mean that we were aware of when we were not being deceived by him and so before we established our foundation(using the cogito concept), we had already accepted