PHIL & ENGL Joint Essay - Copy.docx

PHIL & ENGL Joint Essay - Copy.docx - Brandt 1 Chase...

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Brandt 1 Chase Brandt PHIL 1001H & ENGL 1301H Prof. Choi & Prof. Pladek 20 November 2017 Essay #2 Curiosity and a yearning for knowledge are two characteristics that many great philosophers have in common; Rene Descartes is one of these great philosophers. Descartes is well known for his contributions in mathematics and science, but he also spent years of his life advancing various philosophical arguments. Two topics he was especially passionate about were the theory of knowledge and the nature of the mind, which are both addressed in his text, Meditations on First Philosophy . These meditations are believed to be inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises, which Descartes likely learned during his Jesuit education; the intent of spiritual exercise is to engage the whole mind and to develop as an individual. A groundbreaking conclusion that Descartes arrives at in his Meditations on First Philosophy is that each person is essentially a mind, which is sometimes referred to as a soul. A few of the premises in his argument are frequently attacked, but he expected this backlash because the argument requires an individual to forget any prior opinions and enter the argument with a willingness to learn and expand one’s knowledge. This is a difficult state of mind to develop, but by examining the epic poetry written by Dante, it becomes easier to conceptualize Descartes’s argument. In the first of Dante’s trio of epics, the Inferno , one can find numerous references to the nature of the human mind and how it differs from the body. The works of Descartes and Dante justifiably show that a person is essentially a mind and not a body.
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Brandt 2 In Rene Descartes’s second meditation, he concludes that the person is not essentially a body, but rather a mind that thinks (Descartes 22). In his first meditation, Descartes uses the method of hyperbolic doubt, which assumes anything that can be doubted will be doubted, to conclude that one cannot have a justified true belief of almost anything at all. According to Descartes, the only thing he knows for certain is if he believes he exists, then he does exist; this is the basis for his claim of cogito ergo sum, which translates to “I think, therefore I am”. Later
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