Paper 2

Submitted By hberlett
Words: 977
Pages: 4

Haley Berlett
The Method of Doubt The method of doubt was created by Descartes to find out what was absolutely true, and what he could prove with certainty. According to Lex Newman, the author of "Descartes Epistemology", published in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, he brings in a quote of Descartes' which explains why his method of doubt works cooperatively with foundationalism. "Throughout my writings I have made it clear that my method imitates that of the architect. When an architect wants to build a house which is stable on ground where there is a sandy topsoil over underlying rock, or clay, or some other firm base, he begins by digging out a set of trenches from which he removes the sand, and anything resting on or mixed in with the sand, so that he can lay his foundations on firm soil. In the same way, I began by taking everything that was doubtful and throwing it out, like sand …"
By throwing out all previous ideas, and starting from the bottom to find truth, Descartes believed the method of doubt is the best way to find knowledge, because it is based on foundationalism, making it easier to build upon. The first step in this method was to doubt all knowledge he had, and he would discover the truth in an idea when it could not be doubted. In order to find the absolute truth, he began this process of doubt by clearing his mind and doubting all previous ideas he had. He did this through a series of meditations. In his first meditation, he began exploring knowledge through the senses. He found that by exploring what he knew through sensory perception, all knowledge can be deceived. His next thought that went through his mind, was that there are some things that we cannot reasonably have doubts, such as having a body. Descartes mentions, "In having certain perceptions, its possible I'm not in my right mind," therefore; showing that the fact of having a body can be doubted. He also backs this up by bringing in the theory of dreams into the meditation. It is impossible to prove with certainty when you are dreaming, and when you are not. Now that Descartes has discarded the senses as a source of knowledge, he begins to look at the next source of knowledge, the sciences. Descartes believes that it would seem almost impossible to doubt a mathematical fact such as two plus two equals four. However, what if there is an evil genius in my head making me believe that all falsehoods are true? Descartes uses the reference of an evil genius to bring all mathematics and logic into doubt. Descartes finds the first indubitable fact in his second mediation. He claims "I think, therefore, I am." He came to the conclusion of his own existence through that facts that he is a being who doubts, and who is deceived. This does not mean he has a body, but he solely exists and a thinking being. This is important, because it pushes the method of doubt further because now he has to figure out how he has become a thinking being, and where all these ideas and thoughts came from. He settles on three possible types of ideas: innate, thoses that he has come up with on his own, and those that originate with something outside of himself. However, there is one idea that he believes he could not have come up with on his own, and that is the idea of God. In Descartes' third meditation, he proves the existence of God. Descartes writes, "Perhaps I myself could be the source of most of my ideas, but my idea of God is an idea of a being having more actual or formal reality than I—or, for that matter, than any other thing." This simply means that because his mind is finite, it is not capable of creating this perfect, infinite