DESCARTES

DESCARTES - 1. Epistemic project Descartes a. Descartes...

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1. Epistemic project – Descartes a. Descartes wants to "establish" some "firm and lasting" (or "firm and permanent") knowledge. (IP3 42b) b. To do this he will "begin again from the first foundations" or "build anew from the foundation" (IP3 42b) c. First he will "raze everything," i.e., will engage in "the general destruction of my former opinions" or "the general upheaval of all my former opinions." (IP3 43a) d. He need not show these opinions to be false (IP3 43a), because . .."I should withhold my assent no less carefully from things which are not plainly certain and indubitable than I would from what is patently false . .." or "I ought no less carefully to withhold my assent from matters which are not entirely certain and indubitable than from those which appear to me manifestly to be false . .." (IP3 43a) e. I.e., if you can't be sure of it, don't believe it. f. If there is a "reason for doubting" (IP3 43a) a belief, then one can't be sure of it. g. And if one can't be sure of "the foundations" (IP3 43a), one can't be sure of beliefs that have been "built upon them," the "edifice." (IP3 43a) h. So all Descartes needs to do (for this destructive project) is to show that there is reason for doubting the foundational beliefs. i. Epistemology = the study of what is meant by "knowledge". What does it mean to "know" something as opposed to merely having an opinion? j. Descartes becomes doubtful of everything he thought he knew to be true and the falsehoods he built on that foundation. He believes if he wants to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last he much demolish his previous opinions and believes. k. Does he know anything for certain? Everything must be doubted. l. What is the fundamental nature of reality, what is the interaction m. How do we know there is an external world? n. Science is based on inductive beliefs (likely to be true, happens repeatedly but no way to reach conclusion with complete confidence) 2. Rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, Loibniz) a. Emphasis on the power of reason and reason alone (pure thought) b. Reason is thought to be the best source of knowledge c. Relatively suspicious of claims to gain knowledge through the sense (suspicious of senses) d. Emphasize the importance of innate ideas ideas implanted in the mind, from birth, can’t be learned 3. Descartes Method of Doubt a. Descartes says that he wishes to examine those things, which he thinks to be true and set aside all those beliefs of which there might be some doubt. Examining all of one's beliefs, one by one, would be a very
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long, chancy and impractical process. So, Descartes needs a way to group beliefs together, which will allow him to call into question whole classes of beliefs by questioning their common character. He finds such a way to group beliefs by focusing on the faculty, such as the senses, the imagination or reason, from which beliefs are derived. b.
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This note was uploaded on 05/14/2008 for the course PHIL 140 taught by Professor Nathancox during the Spring '08 term at Kansas.

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DESCARTES - 1. Epistemic project Descartes a. Descartes...

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