Paper #1- Descartes

Paper #1- Descartes - Leon Jang Philsophy 1000 Section 4...

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Leon Jang Philsophy 1000 Section 4 Paper #1: Descartes Question #1 In the first meditation, Descartes realizes that his foundation on which he bases everything is false. Now without a foundation, Descartes starts to doubt everything in the world. Without full certainty of something he dismisses it without a second thought. He slowly deconstructs the world and tries to find certainty through doubt rather than finding certainty by finding certainty. Descartes feels that this is a more effective method because the things that are left after deconstructing one’s world are the things that one can be absolutely certain of. Ultimately, Descartes’ intent is to create a foundation that is firm and unshakeable. He achieves this by creating two divergent personalities within himself: one who resists doubt and the other who goes at great lengths to doubt everything, henceforth referred to as “Resist” and “Doubt”, respectively. These pseudo-personalities are akin to the popular culture image of an angel and a demon on one’s shoulder, trying to persuade the person in the middle. Descartes first starts by doubting the senses; he asks how can he be certain of them? The paradox arises in how he can prove the senses when all he possibly has are the senses. Descartes’ internal dispute begins with Resist stating that Descartes cannot doubt that he is sitting there in front of the fireplace, feeling the warmth of the fire unless he “likens [himself] to be insane, whose brains are impaired by such an unrelenting vapor of black bile that they steadfastly insist that they are kings when they are utter paupers” (14). Doubt counters this with the fact that humans dream. He simply exclaims that Descartes is mad as he dreams of even wilder things within his dreams. However, Resist refuses to give up on senses by explaining the vividness and distinctness of how he feels when he is awake. So in the end, Descartes concludes that one can doubt things, but one cannot doubt the basic things like colors and shapes. Thus we can doubt subjects like physics and astronomy as they are based and dependent on composite things. But one cannot doubt subjects like arithmetic and geometry as they are based on the most fundamental
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things; “for when I am awake or asleep, two plus three make five and a square does not have more than four sides” (15). After affirming that he can no longer believe in his senses, Descartes starts to question his own intellect. He starts with the subject of God and of God’s omnipotence. He wonders what if God is making him think that two plus three equals five when it is not. But he deems that God is supremely good, thus this could not possibly happen. Descartes mentions this because he does not want to draw scrutiny and persecution from religious groups as he is not attacking God, but rather just philosophizing on certainty. But for argument’s sake, an evil genius who is all-powerful and all-knowing, “who directs all his effort to
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Paper #1- Descartes - Leon Jang Philsophy 1000 Section 4...

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