Descartes' Meditation One


Being a foundationalist, Descartes needs to destroy the foundations of
his beliefs so that in his Meditations he will be able to build upon new
foundations of undeniable and self evident truths. In order to do this Descartes
must first find a valid argument that will allow him to doubt his foundation
beliefs and in turn doubt what is considered to be reality. He begins by first
noting that one can not trust their own senses, because we can be deceived by
our sciences. An example of such would be if one looks at an optical illusion,
they are seeing something that is not really there, and therefore are being
deceived by their sense of sight. But this is not enough to justify doubting ...

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one was, as Descartes writes,
“..insane, whose brains are impaired by such an unrelenting vapor of black
bile..” that they believe they are something other than what they are, would one
doubt reality, without an argument. The argument is as follows: If the
experience of a dream is indistinguishable between that dream and reality; and
there is no test to differentiate between dreaming and awakens, then one must
doubt the world outside their minds. This is so because even if one believes
they are awake and perceiving their surroundings soundly, they have no way of
knowing for certain that they are not, at that moment, dreaming. Still this
argument is not sufficient in Descartes' quest to doubt “everything”. This is so
because even when we are dreaming we still know certain undeniable truths or a
priori knowledge, these are facts such as a5 + b5 = c5 (in a right triangle) or
that triangles have three sides.
Descartes then begins to entertain the idea of a God who created all
things, ...

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Added: 2/6/2005 11:02:50 AM
Category: Miscellaneous
Type: Free Paper
Words: 620
Pages: 3

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