Descartes (Paper #1)

Descartes (Paper #1) - Candis Schonekas October 19, 2007 In...

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Candis Schonekas October 19, 2007 In his fourth meditation, Descartes undergoes the huge task of giving an account of error, or a reason why people make mistakes. Sure, it is obvious that as humans, we err in countless ways, but explaining why this is can best be described as impossible. How could it be possible that one person, imperfect by definition, could find (and attempt to fix) the reason for all error or imperfection? Furthermore, who is one person to explain every error of generations of humans? Perhaps Descartes can speak for himself, and therefore try to explain why he himself makes mistakes. Giving his own account of error almost sounds achievable. But to take on the account of all error, of all humans, is rather pretentious, to say the least. I must admit that Descartes’ account of error is plausible, at first. Though very broad, it seems to be a very logical argument, which will be demonstrated when I explain it. I also, however, see that the reasoning is less than perfect. Therefore, I will argue that this account of error is not good enough, and give examples supporting this argument. Pretentious or not, the fourth meditation gives a very general account of error. Descartes reasons that the basis of error comes from the relationship, or lack of, between human will (or the ability to choose freely) and human understanding (or the ability to know). He begins by making the case that will is the one perfect and infinite human quality. He describes this will as “being inclined to do or not to do…without an awareness of being forced towards it by external forces”. He also contends that this will is boundless. This means that we, as humans, have the will to choose completely by ourselves, with no limits. We choose whether to believe or not believe. We make this decision about every piece of information, and this choice cannot be taken away or changed by some outside force. We
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make the choice to do or not do. We make this choice about every action. This argument is fair enough; we cannot dispute that each human is completely free to believe, or have want to do, whatever he or she chooses (in effect, anything). The one argument I have with this is
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2008 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Kane during the Fall '07 term at Tulane.

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Descartes (Paper #1) - Candis Schonekas October 19, 2007 In...

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