Descartes Essay

2471 words - 10 pages

Descartes and Rationalism
René Descartes, 1596-1650 (Latin Renatus Cartesius, hence the term Cartesian)

Descartes’ Project Descartes was a contemporary of Galileo and Kepler. He was born about 50 years after the publication of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus. Thus he lived right at the beginning of the scientific revolution, as the medieval world view was beginning to collapse. Descartes was a mathematician and physicist, as well as a philosopher. He was the first to offer a system of mechanics that applied both to terrestrial and heavenly bodies. His system was based on a set of laws governing the motions of particles, including various types of collisions. These laws, though unsuccessful, ...view middle of the document...

Of course this isn’t easy, as one does not simply choose what to believe. On cannot help believing that things are basically as they seem to be. To help him doubt even things that seem obviously true, Descartes meditated on various possible “sceptical scenarios”. These are situations that cannot be ruled out, i.e. they could be one’s actual situation, yet if they are true then just about all one’s beliefs are false. These are well known. First Descartes considered that, when asleep and dreaming, everything seems just as real and true as when he is awake. So perhaps he is dreaming at this very moment, in which case he may not be sitting in a chair, writing, and so on. To make his doubting even deeper and more radical, Descartes considered the possibility that God is evil (the “evil demon”) and has the aim of deceiving Descartes as much as

possible. All of his sense experience, everything he sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes could be a sophisticated illusion. The demon feeds the fictitious sensory inputs directly to his conscious mind. Even his sense of motion and positions of his limbs could be part of the illusion. (Descartes should have been on the credits of The Matrix! You can also see connections with Berkeley’s later idealism here.) On this scenario, which cannot be ruled out, almost everything he believes is false. An important insight of Descartes, concerning the demon scenario, is that one’s physical body might be an illusion. This extended, geometrical object, with arms, legs, hair, and so on, might not exist. One’s real body might be quite different; perhaps one is really four-legged, feathered, or completely bald? Or perhaps one has no physical body at all! Isn’t it possible that one’s self is a purely thinking “substance” (object) with no geometrical properties like volume and shape? One might be a disembodied soul, receiving fictitious sense experiences from the demon. I cannot be sure, therefore, that I have a physical body. Is there anything I can be sure of? Is there any limit to the method of doubt? Is there any belief that is immune from all possible doubt? Perhaps my conscious mind is also an illusion? Perhaps the demon has deceived me into believing that I exist as a thinking being? Is this conceivable? Descartes finds that he’s not able to even to conceive of this as a possibility. If there’s a deception, then someone must be deceived. Thus the person deceived must exist, and so no one can be fooled into thinking they exist, when really they don’t. Can I be fooled into thinking I’m conscious, when really I’m unconscious? Can I believe that I have conscious experiences, when really I do not? Again, the answer is surely not. Even though my mental images might not be caused by real objects, I cannot doubt that I am aware of mental images. I may not really see a tree, but I certainly seem to see a tree. I cannot be deceived into thinking that I am conscious. In other words, Descartes reasoned that, since I am conscious,...

Other Papers Like Descartes

The Conceivability And Divisibility Arguments Essay

8415 words - 34 pages Meditation VI: The Conceivability and Divisibility Arguments The Argument Introduced The Conceivability Argument occurs in Meditation VI. It is Descartes’ most celebrated argument. It was criticised in its day and has been ever since. The argument purports to establish that minds are non-physical substances and hence that a mind is not identical to any bit of the body, such as the brain. A person is a special unity of two substances

Phil 201 Essay

755 words - 4 pages Stacy Mottola PHIL 201-D05 25NOV2013 Essay 1 Many question whether or not what we are seeing and are experiencing is real or just part of our imagination. This question is one that has been proposed for hundreds of years by philosophers like Descartes and Plato. How is it possible that a Greek philosopher, a philosopher from the seventeenth century and the movie The Matrix can be so similar? It is the intent of this paper to compare and

Philosophy - Skepticism

1725 words - 7 pages own minds, experiences that we have like taking psychedelics and vividly dreaming only show that the true concept of possessing knowledge is impossible. After all, dreams regularly fool us into believing we are truly experiencing an event; so how do we know there is any difference in what we are experiencing now? In the following paragraphs I will be explaining Descartes reasoning for skepticism, and my subsequent view of why it is important to

Socrates: Life And Death

609 words - 3 pages Johnson 2 away the idea of knowledge that is gained through an unforeseen higher medium without ever giving definite proof of their assumptions. Descartes once wrote that, because the only method by which we perceive the external world is through our senses, and that, because the senses are not

Evaluation Of Disembodied Existence

1251 words - 6 pages information with nothing supernatural to us. In Dawkins view; scientific views can be supported by reliable evidence, whereas ideas proposed by Plato and Descartes are dependent on myth and faith alone, in which then there is no empirical evidence. So to Dawkins it would be completely illogical to suggest anything further concerning the soul; it is merely a concept of illusion caused by ignorance and irrational perception. Human consciousness is a

What Is Mind?

1230 words - 5 pages example, surgery can be done to the brain if it is malfunctioning to enhance its efficiency. On the contrary, complex processes which are not physical in nature are normally used to heal mental illnesses. One of the major proponents of this perspective is Rene Descartes. Physicalism is a philosophical entity that holds the view that reality as perceived by human mind does not go beyond the observable things. This term was coined by Otto

Philo

337 words - 2 pages upon the foundation of logic in order to prove God’s existence. Similarly Descartes would have also disagreed with this statement as he felt it was as logically necessary for God to exist in the same way that it was logically necessary for triangles to have three sides and three angles. Those who accept Descartes idea that God is a ‘supremely perfect being’ leads to accepting the logical conclusion that God must exist. In conclusion it appears that logic cannot prove the existence of God, as just because we can identify something as having the capabilities to exist doesn’t mean it exist. Similarly logic doesn’t prove existence as furthe

History Of Psychology

898 words - 4 pages Greeks such as Aristotle believed “The heart was the seat of the mind”, and the brain was more so a filter to calm heat the heart produced. While the philosopher and physician Hippocrates believed “The brain was the seat of sensation as well as intellect”. Investigation and dissection of minds belonging to abnormal beings lead to many controversial beliefs. The beginning of modern philosophy is said to be led by Rene’ Descartes. Descartes was

Mind-Body Question Paper

1804 words - 8 pages means to her. The conclusion of the essay after research is that this question is difficult to answer because of different views and perspectives. Mind-Body Questions Paper The mind-body question has been a source of examination for many years. This examination began in the seventeenth-century with the French philosopher Descartes. Many credit Descartes with beginning the mind-body problem. The mind-body question in essence deals with how

Walmart

585 words - 3 pages do they apply? Both sides, Wal-Mart and its employees, should be guided by the Candidate Ethical principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”   Would Wal-Mart want its employees to treat customers as callously as the employees feel they have been? Do the employees want Wal-Mart cheating against them like many of them might on their availability slips? Wal-Mart must consider Descartes’ rule of change.   While the new

Reflections

1607 words - 7 pages have changed and my overall view on life is much different than it was before I started this class. I come from a culture where I was taught never to ask questions, and to always believe whatever I was told, especially if someone much older said it, but taking this course has expanded my thinking capacity, and just like Descartes, who was a rationalist, someone who believed that true knowledge is produced by logical and critical thinking, I have

Related Essays

Descartes Vs. Locke Essay

1175 words - 5 pages Philosophy Essay (Descartes vs. Locke) Socrates once said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” Several philosophers contradicted Socrates’ outlook and believed that true knowledge was in fact attainable. This epistemological view however had several stances to it, as philosophers held different beliefs in regards to the derivation of true knowledge. Rationalists believed that the mind was the source of true knowledge, while in

Descartes And Heidegger Essay

1184 words - 5 pages Descartes and Heidegger both set a new standard for thinking, but at completely different ends. Descartes says a subject is a thinking thing that is not extended, and the object is an extended thing which does not think. Heidegger rejects this distinction between subject and object by arguing that there is no subject distinct from the external world of things because Dasein is essentially Being-in-the-world. To Heidegger, everything has an

For What We May Hope According To Descartes

912 words - 4 pages In his book, “Mediation of First Philosophy’’, Rene Descartes attempts to separate the truth from false and the imaginary from reality while giving new hope to his readers. He actually tries to withdraw from his previous conclusions claiming that he could have used senses rather than thinking and therefore this round he withdraws totally from senses through a process of methodological doubt. He creates a sense of doubt in other scholars work by

Phil 1010 Essay

540 words - 3 pages 24 April 2010 Philosophy 1010 Assignment 3 Descartes theory of doubt rest on the Latin phrase Cogito Ergo Sum. Translated into English the phrase means “I think, therefore I am”. This theory hinges on what is real and what is false; and mimics the branch of philosophy called Metaphysics. Metaphysics questions the reality of environment as does the method of doubt. Descartes skepticism (method of doubt) is termed methodological, because it