Philosophy Skepticism Essay

1725 words - 7 pages

Skepticism: A Reexamination of Reality
When dealing with skepticism, it's imperative to understand why it is being discussed. Seeking the answer to a question that challenges the concept of reality is hardly an undertaking most people would want to attempt. It is far easier for the general population to blissfuly accept the reality that they experience as concrete. However, If our concept of knowledge is bound to what is accessible within our 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 ...view middle of the document...

A common example can be how extreme cold and heat can produce a very similar sensation, but Descartes example was the sensory experience us humans have when we are dreaming. So if humans can believe that dreams are real while they are experiencing them, what then separates our dream reality from the one we call our “true” reality? Descartes contends that we cannot even know if our bodies are figments of our sensory experience or if they actually exist outside of our senses. The natural conclusion he draws is that all forms of science that study the “composite” things have inherent doubt in them because they rely on information from the senses. This leaves disciplines such as geometry and arithmetic that descartes thinks cannot reasonably be doubted. This leads him to question whether his notion of God which he believes is inherently good would deceive him, he assumes the latter is correct so he imagines a powerful demon who's goal is to deceive him. To counter this demon he decides to consider himself as separate from his eyes, hands, flesh, or senses to guard against believing in the deception. Living life like this constantly is a tough job, and if one were to get lazy it would lead them back into the pleasant illusion of life. Descartes search for one indubitable truth continues until he makes the revelation that to be deceived means that one must exist. This undeniable truth has come to resonate through the ages and still is a cornerstone for many modern philosphers.
When I read Descartes reasons for doubting I felt very conflicted in my views. I firmly agree with him that every notion that we have that is based off of our senses is absolutely dubitable. The reason for this is because our only notion of those beliefs are based on information that must pass through the “filters” or senses of the human body/mind. Descartes then asserts that we have no reason to doubt mathematics because it is true regardless of our senses, however I personally find this to be extremely hypocritical for him to say. It is impossible to say that the notion of mathematics or even numbers as a whole is separated from the sensory experience of humans. The only way humans conceptualized things such as numbers or geometry was to help portray what they saw and felt in the world. Imagine being blind since birth and trying to have someone explain to you the difference between a diamond and square, as the difference is a matter of perspective, it would be hard to conceptualize shapes the way we do without sight. All of that is to say that if Descartes really holds the notion that we cannot believe what our senses tell us as a true one, then he must relinquish all notions of reality including the “transparent” beliefs such as mathematics. A byproduct of this type of reasoning would eventually lead a person to radical skepticism, which is not necessarily such a bad thing. I would find it very hard to try and find one universal truth that we do not encounter with our...

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