Within Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), René Descartes undertakes the project of developing a new belief system regarding his existence. Descartes begins this project by demolishing his former belief system. Having his trust in the senses eliminated through a process of methodical doubt, Descartes attempts to establish a sound platform, upon which he will build an indubitable foundation for all knowledge. Upon evaluation of the first two meditations, three conditions for establishing this indubitable foundation are evident. In the first meditation, he sets out to completely overturn all that he had accepted as true. This is the initial condition toward establishing the foundation. In the process of methodically doubting all his beliefs, it becomes clear that cerebral studies should not depend on sensory experience. Descartes surmises that the senses are unreliable. This introduces the idea of mind-body dualism – in effect – the mind is distinct from the body. Within the second mediation, Descartes establishes that he exists, in so far as he is thinking. This will serve as the second condition towards establishing an indubitable foundation for knowledge. Once Descartes has found his Archimedean point, he further explores his nature in order to determine if he is anything beyond a mind, leading to the third condition, the conclusion that the mind is better known than the body and material things. Through an evaluation of Descartes' first two mediations, I will examine these three conditions upon which one is capable of establishing an indubitable foundation for all knowledge. Within the first meditation, Descartes is successful in overturning the foundation upon which his most mundane beliefs stand. As well, he introduces preliminary evidence that the mind and its faculties must be studied independently of the senses in order to obtain true knowledge. This is an idea quintessential to establishing an indubitable foundation for all knowledge. Upon beginning the task of overturning his most mundane beliefs, Descartes realizes that all knowledge which is certain relies on the senses. This leads Descartes to develop several doubts that demonstrate that our senses are unreliable. Even our most certainly held beliefs stand on an unsound platform. This meditation attempts to undermine Aristotelian philosophy which suggests that all knowledge is obtained through the testimony of the senses. This Aristotelian way of thinking was dominant during the time when Descartes undertook the project of the meditations. By calling all these certainly held beliefs into doubt, he is able to demonstrate that the mind cannot rely on the senses. Therefore, the mind must analyze independently from the senses if true indubitable knowledge is ever to be obtained. The primary concern in the first meditation is the overturning of former beliefs. In the process of doing so, Descartes introduces the evil demon hypothesis as a means to establish doubt of all previously held beliefs. This hypothesis proposes that there is an omnipotent evil mind bent on deceiving Descartes at all times. This makes such clear and distinct ideas as mathematics and geometry dubitable, as an evil demon could be deceiving Descartes into believing in these mathematical laws. Therefore, Descartes cannot even be certain that he exists as a mind. This leads Descartes to the conclusion that he cannot be certain of anything. Therefore, he has successfully undermined his former foundation and overturned his beliefs. From this epistemological ground zero, Descartes can begin searching for a new foundation – one that is indubitable and unquestionable. This initial process of overturning beliefs that may be in doubt is a key component of the intellectual pursuit to establish an indubitable foundation for all knowledge. Without committing to this first step, one will continuously build on feeble and dubitable ground, thereby remaining susceptible to…
October 2, 2014
Anything you can do, I can do better.
Let’s face it, trying to please everyone is absolutely impossible and a sure way to set yourself up for unhappiness. In the poem “The Road Not Taken” By Robert Frost he is trying to explain that to his audience about his experience with that decision. From the beginning, Frost explains that people have their own paths to take. He goes on to explain that as much as he wishes he could take the same path as another…
Your Mind Through Meditation
Every time you open a door, read an email, or take a delicious bit from your favorite dish, you brain is acting and reacting. Constantly sending and receiving neurons to and from your entire body. When you burn your hand on a stove, or even get into a fight with someone, your brain creates then interprets those signals, which bring about a certain emotional reaction. That reaction is then expressed and interpreted by your brain, and then possibly passed on to another…
Since I started college at Johnson state I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to do after college. When I was younger I was told every day that I needed to figure that out if I wanted to be successful when I grew up. The problem is that I just don’t know exactly what it is I want to do yet. The thought of being able to do that sounds good to me but the process of actually figuring that out is slowly becoming a nightmare. I am interested in Criminal Justice…
Introduction to Philosophy
November 24, 2014
God & the Necessity of Evil
In Rene Descartes Meditation IV, he explores the problem of error (evil) and why he is “subject to an infinitude of errors”(20) when it is inconsistent to believe that God, the most perfect being, would be directly responsible for evil through the creation of defective creatures. By analyzing Descartes premises in Meditation IV, I will demonstrate how he has truly solved the problem of evil in a world created by the…
Professor: Darya Myers
June 05, 2013
Rene Descartes was a highly influential French philosopher, scientist and mathematician, who was widely considered one of the celebrated geniuses of the sixteen century. He is also known as the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” Descartes grew up in a society where ideas and thoughts were not questioned, but were supposed to be accepted without being compromised. Descartes began to stride in the field of philosophy at a young age…
Discussion Analyses January 21, 2015 Rene Descartes: Meditation 1 an d2
1. Identify the author’s essay thesis, i.e. the position the author supports on the topic.
Descartes begins to question and place doubt on all the beliefs that come to us from senses. He basically questions is it knowledge and if so what makes it different from opinion.
2. Identify the position against which the essay’s author argues.
Descartes uses three very similar arguments to open all our knowledge…
Cogito ergo sum: In literal terms, this Latin phrase translates to English as “I think, therefore I am”. But what is the underlying meaning behind ergo sum? Who is the I and who decides whether one thinks or not? Is it possible to not think? These are a few of the many questions that have arisen from Descartes’ complex statement. Descartes spent years questioning himself and everything around him to come to the conclusion that he exists. As a result he found that he could…
“I do not think that I know what I do not know,” (Apology 15, d) Socrates’ reply to the oracle of Delphi when told that the wisest man was indeed himself. Have we as readers once again succumbed to Plato’s irony; accepting Socrates’ point and later having our own ignorance shown to us? The statement is indeed an ironically one since Socrates was one of the wisest men of ancient philosophy. The statement also insinuates some kind of knowledge because saying that he doesn’t know anything…
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