Descartes Meditation 1-2

Descartes Meditation 1-2 - 16 1 2 Synopsis explained in...

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Unformatted text preview: 16 1 2 Synopsis explained in what falsity consists. Both these points are necessary, order to set the seal on what goes before, as well as for the und standing of what comes after. (But I should point out that at . ' point I am not at all dealing with sin,* that is, the error that is co ._ mitted in the pursuit of good and evil, but only of error that aff L, the discernment of true from false.) Nor do I examine matters to :- with faith or with the conduct of one’s life, but only speculati truths known by the help of the natural light. In the Fifth, besides the explanation of the nature of bodies in i. - , .. eral, the existence of God is also demonstrated by a new argum In this, however, perhaps several difiiculties will crop up a , which will be settled in the Reply to Objections. Finally, it will a.; shown how it comes to be true that the certainty of geometri demonstrations themselves depends on the knowledge of God. I Finally, in the Sixth the distinction is made between intellecti and imagination; the distinctive features of each are described; it ' proved that the mind is really distinct from the body; and yet closely conjoined to it that it forms a single entity with it; a full list a, given of all the errors that typically arise from the senses and :- mcans by which these may be avoided are explained. Finally, all r:' reasons are put forward that lead us to conclude in the existence :5“ material things: not that I think these are very useful when it on M to proving what they do prove, namely that a world really exists, an s' that human beings have bodies, and so forth, things which no one in their right mind has ever seriously doubted; they are useful because, by considering them, we come to recognize that they are not as solid and clear as those by which we came to the knowledge of our mind and of God; indeed, those latter are the most certain and evident of all reasons that can be grasped by human intelligence. And this is a 1. I was intending to prove in these Meditations. This is why I do not here mention several questions that are also treated incidentally in the course of the work. FIRST MEDITATION THOSE THINGS THAT MAY BE CALLED INTO DOUBT A years now since I realized how many false opinions I had as true from childhood onwards,* and that, whatever I had ‘ t on such shaky foundations, could only be highly doubtful. saw that at some stage in my life the whole structure would be utterly demolished, and that I should have to begin again e bottom up if I wished to construct something lasting and I e ble in the sciences. But this seemed to be a massive task, and . ned it until I had reached the age when one is as fit as one be to master the various disciplines. Hence I have delayed that now I should be at fault if I used up in deliberating the is left for acting. The moment has come, and so today I have - I my mind from all its cares, and have carved out a space of bled leisure. I have withdrawn into seclusion and shall at last i to devote myself seriously and without encumbrance to the = destroying all my former opinions. ‘ this end, however, it will not be necessary to prove them all i a thing I should perhaps never be able to achieve. But since _- 2 already persuades me that I should no less scrupulously d my assent from what is not fully certain and indubitable __ _ in what is blatantly false, then, in order to reject them all, it sufficient to find some reason for doubting each one. Nor shall " r~ fore have to go through them each individually, which would "2 "endless task: but since, once the foundations are undermined, 'ding will collapse of its own accord, I shall straight away the very principles that form the basis of all my former beliefs. I 1y, up to now whatever I have accepted as fully true I have '- 1 either from or by means of the senses: but I have discovered they sometimes deceive us, and prudence dictates that we '* i never fully trust those who have deceived us even once. " Perhaps, although they sometimes deceive us about things are little, or rather a long way away, there are plenty of other : ~ Of which there is clearly no doubt, although it was from the -‘ that we learned them: for instance, that I am now here, sitting “5' ' fire, wrapped in a warm winter gown, handling this paper, 17 l8 —I-———— 19 20 14 F irst Meditation and suchlike. Indeed, that these hands themselves, and this whole body are mine—what reason could there be for doubting this? Unless perhaps I were to compare myself to one of those madmen, whose little brains have been so befuddled by a pestilential vapour arising from the black bile,* that they swear blind that they are kings, though they are beggars, or that they are clad in purple, when they are naked, or that their head is made of clay, or that their whole body is a jug, or made entirely of glass. But they are lunatics, and I should seem no less of a madman myself if I should follow their example in any way. This is all very well, to be sure. But am I not a human being, and therefore in the habit of sleeping at night, when in my dreams I have all the same experiences as these madmen do when they are awake—— or sometimes even stranger ones? How often my sleep at night has convinced me of all these familiar things—that I was here, wrapped in my gown, sitting by the fire—when in fact I was lying naked under the bedclothes. ;All the same, I am now perceiving this paper with eyes that are certainly awake; the head I am nodding is not drowsy; I stretch out my hand and feel it knowingly and deliberately; a sleeper would not have these experiences so distinctly—aBut have I then forgotten those other occasions on which I have been deceived by similar thoughts in my dreams? When I think this over more care— fully I see so clearly that waking can never be distinguished from sleep by any conclusive indications that I am stupefied; and this very stupor comes close to persuading me that I am asleep after all. Let us then suppose* that we are dreaming, and that these particu- lar things (that we have our eyes open, are moving our head, stretch— ing out our hands) are not true; and that perhaps we do not even have hands or the rest of a body like what we see. It must nonetheless be admitted that the things we see in sleep are, so to speak, painted images, which could not be formed except on the basis of a resem— blance with real things; and that for this reason these general things at least (such as eyes, head, hands, and the rest of the body) are not imaginary things, but real and existing. For the fact is that when painters desire to represent sirens and little satyrs with utterly unfamil- iar shapes, they cannot devise altogether new natures for them, but simply combine parts from different animals; or if perhaps they do think up something so new that nothing at all like it has ever been seen, which is thus altogether fictitious and false, it is certain that at First Meditation I 5 least the colours which they combine to form images must be real. By the same token, even though these general things’eyes, head, hands, and so forthfimight be imaginary, it must necessarily be admitted that at least some other still more simple and universal realities must exist, frorn which (as the painter’s image is produced from real colours) all these images of things—be they true or false—+that occur in our thoughts are produced. In this category it seems we should include bodily nature in gen— eral, and its extension; likewise the shape of extended things and their quantity (magnitude and number); likewise the place in which they exist, the time during which they exist, and suchlike. From all this, perhaps, we may safely conclude that physics, astron— omy, medicine, and all the other disciplines which involve the study of composite things are indeed doubtful; but that arithmetic, geometry, and other disciplines of the same kind, which deal only with the very simplest and most general things, and care little whether they exist in nature or not, contain something certain and indubitable. For whether I am waking or sleeping, two plus three equals five, and a square has no more than four sides; nor does it seem possible that such obvious truths could be affected by any suspicion that they are false. However, there is a certain opinion long fixed in my mind, that there is a God who is all—powerful, and by whom I was created such as I am now. Now how do I know that he has not brought it about that there is no earth at all, no heavens, no extended things, no shape, no magnitude, no place—and yet that all these things appear to me a: must just as they do now?* Or even—4iust as I judge now and again that other people are mistaken about things they believe they know mrh the greatest certitude——-t.hat I too should be similarly deceived Whenever I add two and three, or count the sides of a square, or make judgement about something even simpler, if anything simpler can 5‘ Imagined? ' Brit perhaps God has not willed that I should be so cheated, for he said to be supremely good—But if it were incompatible with his 1m ess to have created me such that I am perpetually deceived, it I d. seem equally inconsistent with that quality to permit me to be "I" deceived. Nonetheless, I cannot doubt that he does permit it. t _ Perhaps, indeed, there might be some people who would prefer to if“ F the existence of any God so powerful, rather than believing that fither things are uncertain. But let us not quarrel with them, and 21 —-————— 22 23 16 First Meditation let us grant that all this We have said of God is only a fiction; and let them suppose that it is by fate or chance or a continuous sequence of things that I have come to be what I am. Since, though, to be deceived and to err appear to be some kind of imperfection, the less powerful the source they invoke to explain my being, the more prob- able it will be that I am so imperfect that I am perpetually deceived. To all these arguments, indeed, I have no answer, but at length I am forced to admit that there is nothing of all those things I once thought true, of which it is not legitimate to doubt—and not out of any thoughtlessness or irresponsibility, but for sound and well— weighed reasons; and therefore that, from these things as well, no less than from what is blatantly false, I must now carefully withhold my assent if I wish to discover any thing that is certain.* But it is not enough to have realized all this, I must take care to remember it: for my accustomed opinions continually creep back into my mind, and take possession of my belief, which has, so to speak, been enslaved to them by long experience and familiarity, for the most part against my will. Nor shall I ever break the habit of assenting to them and relying on them, as long as I go on supposing them to be such as they are in truth, that is to say, doubtful indeed in some respect, as has been shown just now, and yet nonetheless highly probable, so that it is much more rational to believe than to deny them. Hence, it seems to me, I shall not be acting unwisely if, willing myself to believe the contrary, I deceive myself, and make believe, for some considerable time, that they are altogether false and imaginary, until, once the prior judgements on each side have been evenly balanced in the scales, no evil custom can any longer twist my judgement away from the correct perception of things. For I know for sure that no danger or error will ensue as a result of this, and that there is no risk that I shall be giving too free a rein to my distrustful- ness, since my concern at the moment is not with action but only with the attainment of knowledge.* I will therefore suppose that, not God, who is perfectly good and the source of truth, but some evil spirit, supremely powerful and cunning, has devoted all his efforts to deceiving me.* I will think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds, and all external things are no different from the illusions of our dreams, and that they are traps he has laid for my credulity; I will consider myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, and no senses, but yet as falsel)r Second Meditation I 7 believing that I have all these;* I will obstinately cling to these thoughts, and in this way, if indeed it is not in my power to discover any truth,* yet certainly to the best of my ability and determination I will take care not to give my assent to anything false, or to allow this deceiver, however powerful and cunning he may be, to impose upon me in any way. But to carry out this plan requires great effort, and there is a kind of indolence that drags me back to my customary way of life. Just as a pris— oner, who was perhaps enjoying an imaginary freedom in his dreams when he then begins to suspect that he is asleep is afraid of being wokeri up, and lets himself sink back into his soothing illusions SO I of my own accord slip back into my former opinions, and am scaried to awake for-fear that tranquil sleep will give way to laborious hours of waking, which fi‘om now on I shall have to spend not in any kind of light, but in the unrelenting darkness of the difficulties just stirred up. SECOND MEDITATION OF THE NATURE OF THE HUMAN MIND; THAT IT IS MORE EASILY KNOWN THAN THE BODY yesterday’s meditation has plunged me into so many doubts that a I cannot put them out of my mind, nor, on the other hand can sr any way to resolve them; but, as if I had suddenly slipped‘into 'deep whirlpool, I am in such difficulties that I can neither touch == om With my foot nor swim back to the surface. Yet I will strug— ‘ on, and I‘will try the same path again as the one I set out on yes— that 15 to say, eliminating everything in which there is the I est element of doubt, exactly as if I had found it to be false .ugh and through; and I shall pursue my way until I discover ethlng certain; or, failing that, discover that it is certain only that g 18 certain. Archimedes"= claimed, that if only he had a point " was firm and immovable, he would move the whole earth‘ and . I thmgs'are likewise to be hoped, if I can find just one little fhing LI t1: certain and unshakeable. - a I“. I hav ry as ever eXisted; 1n 6 no senses at all; body, shape, extensmn in space, motion, ‘3 _ __i _:"—44 24 9-5 13 Second Meditation and place itself are all illusions. What truth then is left? Perhaps this alone, that nothing is certaln. ' I But how do I know that there is not somethlng different from all those things I have just listed, about which there is not the slightest room for doubt? Is there not, after all, some God, or whatever he should be called, that puts these thoughts into my mind? But why should I think that, when perhaps I myself could be the source of these thoughts? But am I at least not something, after all? But I have already denied that I have any senses or any body. Now I am at a loss, because what follows from this? Am I so bound up with my body and senses that I cannot exist without them? But I convinced myself that there was nothing at all in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Did I therefore not also convince myself that I did not exist either? No: certainly I did exist, if I convinced myself of somethingéBut there is some deceiver or other, supremely power— ful and cunning, who is deliberately deceiving me all the time.‘ Beyond doubt then, I also exist, if he is deceiving me; and he can deceive me all he likes, but he will never bring it about that I should be nothing as long as I think I am something. So that, having weighed all these considerations sufficiently and more than sufficiently, I can finally decide* that this proposition, ‘1 am, I exist’, whenever it is uttered by me, or conceived in the mind, is necessarily true. But indeed I do not yet sufficiently understand what in fact this ‘I’ is that now necessarily existsf" so that from now on I must take care in case I should happen imprudently to take something else to be me that is not me, and thus go astray in the very knowledge [t'ognin'one] that I claim to be the most certain and evident of all. Hence I shall now meditate afresh on what I once believed myself to be, before I fell into this train of thought. From this I shall then subtract whatever it has been possible to cast doubt on, even in the slightest degree, by the reasons put forward above, so that in the end there shall remain exactly and only that which is certain and unshakeable. SO what in fact did I think I was before all this? A human being, of course. But what is a human being? Shall I say, ‘a rational animal’?* No, for then I should have to examine what exactly an animal is, and what ‘rational’ is, and hence, starting with one question, I should stumble into more and more difficult ones. Nor do I now have so much leisure that I can afford to fritter it away on subtleties of this kind. But here I shall rather direct my attention to the thoughts that Second Meditation 19 spontaneously and by nature‘s prompting came to my mind before— hand, whenever I considered what I was. The first was that I have a face, hands, arms, and this whole mechanism of limbs, such as we see even in corpses; this I referred to as the body. Next, that I took nour— ishment, moved, perceived with my senses, and thought: these actions indeed I attributed to the soul.* What this soul was, however, either I never considered, or I imagined it as something very rarefied and subtle, like a wind, or fire, or thin air, infused into my coarser parts. But about the body itself, on the other hand, I had no doubts, but I thought I distinctly knew its nature, which, if I had attempted to describe how I conceived it in my mind, I would have explained as follows: by body I mean everything that is capable of being bounded by some shape, ofexisting in a definite place, offilling a space in such a way as to exclude the preSence of any other body within it; of being perceived by touch, sight, hearing, taste, or smell, and also of being moved in various ways, not indeed by itself, but by some other thing by which it is touched; for to have the powor of moving itself, and also of perceiving by the senses or thinking, I judged could in no wav belong to the nature of body; rather, I was puzzled by the fact that such capacities were found in certain bodies. But what about now, when I am supposing that some deceiver, who is supremely powerful and, if I may venture to say so, evil, has been exerting all his efforts to delude me in every way? Can I affirm that I possess the slightest thing of all those that I have just said belong to the nature of body? I consider, I think, I go over it all in my mind: nothing comes up. It would be a waste of effort to go through the list again. But what about the attributes I used to ascribe to the Soul? What about taking nourishment or moving? But since I now have no body, these also are nothing but illusions. What about sense— perception? But certainly this does not take place without a bodv, and I have seemed to perceive very many things when asleep that I later realized I had not perceived. What about thinking? Here I do find something: it is thought; this alone cannot be stripped from me. 1am, I exist, this is certain. But for how long? Certainly only for as ‘long as I am thinking; for perhaps if I were to cease from all thinking It mlght also come to pass that I might immediately cease altogether to must. I am now admitting nothing except what is necessarily true: I 31'?! therefore, speaking precisely, only a thinking thing, that is, 3 mind, or a soul, or an intellect, or a reasonkwords the meaning of 2.6 37 ——-—-—— Second Meditation 2.0 eviously unknown to me. I am therefore a true thing, whiCh was Pr . . . and one that truly exists; but what kind of thing? I have said it already: one that thinks. What comes next? I will imagine: I am not that framework of limbs that is called a human body; I am not some thin air infused into these limbs, or a wind, or a fire, or a vapour, or a breath, or whatever I can picture myself as: for I have supposed that these things do not exist. But even if I keep to this supposition, nonetheless I am still some— thing.*—But all the same, it is perhaps still the case that these very things I am supposing to be nothing, are nevertheless not distinct from this ‘me’ that I know* [now .—Perhaps: I don’t know. But this is not the point at issue at present. I can pass judgement only on those things that are known to me. I know [now] that I exist; I am trying to find out what this ‘I’ is, whom I know [now]. It is absolutely certain that this knowledge [manner], in the precise sense in question 28 here, does not depend on things of which I do not yet know [now] whether they exist; and therefore it depends on none of those things I picture in my imagination. This very word ‘imagination’ shows where I am going wrong. For I should certainly be ‘imagining things’ if I imagined myself to be anything, since imagining is nothing other than contemplating the shape or image of a bodily thing. Now, how— ever, I know [grin] for certain that I exist; and that, at the same time, it could be the case that all these images, and in general everything that pertains to the nature of body, are nothing but illusions. Now this is clear to me, it would seem as foolish of me to say: ‘I shall use my imagination, in order to recognize more clearly what I am', as it would be to say: ‘Now I am awake, and I see something true; but because I cannot yet see it clearly enough, I shall do my best to get back to sleep again so that my dreams can show it to me more truly and more clearly.’ And so I realize [ragaasco] that nothing that I can grasp by means of the imagination has to do with this knowledge [notitiom] I have of myself, and that I need to withdraw my mind from such things as thoroughly as possible, if it is to perceive its own nature as distinctly as possible. But what therefore am I? A thinking thing. What is that? I mean a s, that denies, that wishes to do this and does not wish to do that, and also that imagines thing that doubts, that understands, that affirm and perceives by the senses. Second M editai'ian 2 I lWell, indeed, there is quite a lot there, if all these things really do behong to me. But why-should they not belong to me? Is it not me w odourrently‘doubts Virtually everything, who nonetheless under— smn s l.slome'thing, who aflirms this alone to be true, and denies the rest, ‘w 0 Wishes to know more, and wishes not to be deceived who Uri-agines many things, even against his will, and is aware of him things that appear to come via the senses? Is there any of these thin i that is not equally true as the fact that I exist—even if I am alwags gistipkgnd even itf my creator is deceiving me to the best of his abil 1 , s ere any 0 them that can be distin ' u - guished from m thinki P :lsmthcre guy that can be said to be separate from me? Forythat it lilsgl t aerp iso:b:;ngi, undilrstanding, wishing, is so obvious that nothing furth ee e in or er to explain it more clearl ' ‘ ' . ‘ ' D _ y. But indeed t 21551)}:1315 shame I that is imagining; for although it might be the (3:18:35 ave een supposing that none of these im ' ' ‘ i _ , agined thin s is t yet the actual power of imaginin ' ' g rue, ‘ I g certainly does most and ' my thinking. And finally it is the same I ' , ls part Of that erceive b the senses or who is aware ' p S y means 0f , of corporeal things as if b i I I I y means of the Beenutsesth. for 53511111316, I am seeing a light, hearing a noise, feeling heat — be ese ings are false, smce I am asleepl—But certainly I semi: I0 56:]?g‘, hearing, getting. hot. This cannot be false. This is what is mirgtyorggintthby speaking of myself as having sensations and - is preCise sense it is nothin h ‘ 1' i F - I , _ g or er than thinkin . H 7 “5:11:11: Ioif‘ntlfigs,t I amBindeed beginning to know [110558] ratgher . - c am. ut it still seems (and I cannot be] ' ‘ . . _ th k— . tlggtj thet'llnogil);1 things of which the images are formeld inliiur - , w ic t e senses themselves in ' re distinctly recognized than vesugate’ are “web that part of m If ' ' M t I yse , whatever it strlennothhe represented by the imagination. Although, indeed _ i me Slgc thin things that realize are doubtful, unknown, unrelafed - is 1;: be more distinctly grasped by me than what is true and J N t is ha wnI—more distinctly grasped even than myself. But I See II 2’: yet all ppening. My mind enioys wandering off the track, and will I mellow itself to be confined within the boundaries of truth. Very , heft); et us, once again, slacken its reins as far as possiblek a” r i: too long, a tug on them at the right moment will b ' -- Le 6 ready back to obedience.* ring 7 ‘ r us ca ' I ' ' é _ distinctfiider those things which are commonly thought to be I y grasped than anything else: I mean the bodies we 29 3o 31 22 Second Meditation touch and see; but not bodies in general, for these general percep— tions are usually considerably more confused, but one body in par— ticular. Let us, for example, take this wax: it has only just been removed from the honeycomb; it has not yet lost all the flavour of its honey; it retains some of the scent of the flowers among which it was gathered; its colour, shape, and size are clearly visible; it is hard, cold, easy to touch, and if you tap it with your knuckle, it makes a sound. In short, it has all the properties that seem to be required for a given body to be known as distinctly as possible. But wait—while I am speaking, it is brought close to the fire. The remains of its flavour evaporate; the smell fades; the colour is changed, the shape is taken away, it grows in size, becomes liquid, becomes warm, it can hardly be touched, and now, if you strike it, it will give off no sound. Does the same wax still remain? We must admit it does remain: no one would say or think it does not. So what was there in it that was so distinctly grasped? Certainly, none of those qualities I appre- hended by the senses: for whatever came under taste, or smell, or sight, or touch, or hearing, has now changed: but the wax remains. Perhaps the truth of the matter was what I now think it is: namely, that the wax itself was not in fact this sweetness of the honey, or the fragrance of the flowers, or the whiteness, shape, or sonority, but the body which not long ago appeared to me as perceptible in these modes,* but now appears in others. But what exactly is this that I am imagining in this way? Let us consider the matter, and, thinking away those things that do not belong to the wax, let us see what remains. Something extended, flexible, mutable: certainly, that is all. But in what do this flexibility and mutability consist? Is it in the fact that I can imagine this wax being changed in shape, from a circle to a square, and from a square into a triangle? That cannot be right: for I understand that it is capable of innumerable changes of this sort, yet I cannot keep track of all these by using my imagination. Therefore my understanding of these properties is not achieved by using the faculty of imagination. What about ‘extended’? Surely I know some— thing about the nature of its extension. For it is greater when the wax is melting, greater still when it is boiling, and greater still when the heat is further increased. And I would not be correctly judging what the wax is if I failed to see that it is capable of receiving more varieties, as regards extension, than I have ever grasped in my imagination. So I am left with no alternative, but to accept that I am Second Meditation 23 not at all imagining what this wax is, I am perceiving it with my mind alone: I say ‘this wax’ in particular, for the point is even clearer about wax in general. So then, what is this wax, which is only perceived by the mind? Certainly it is the same wax I see, touch, and imagine, and in short it is the same wax I judged it to be from the beginning. But Yet—#and this is important—the perception of it is not sight, touch, of imagination, and never was, although it seemed to be so at first: it is an inspection by the mind alone, which can be either imperfect and confused, as it was before in this case, or clear and distinct, as it now is, depending on the greater or lesser degree of attention I pay to what it consists of. But in the meantime I am amazed by the proneness of my mind to mar. For although I am considering all this in myself silently and without speech, yet I am still ensnared by words themselves, and all 32 but deceived by the very ways in which we usually put things. For we say that we ‘see’ the wax itself, if it is present, not that we judge it to be there on the basis of its colour or shape. From this I would have immediately concluded that I therefore knew the wax by the sight of my eyes, not by the inspection of the mind alonefiif I had - not happened to glance out of the window at peeple walking along the street. Using the customary expreSSion, I say that I ‘see’ them Just as I ‘see’ the wax. But what do I actually see other than hats and mts, which could be covering automata?* But I judge that they are people. And therefore what I thought I saw with my eyes, I in fact grasp only by the faculty of judging that is in my mind. But one who desires to know more than the common herd might be ashamed to have gone to the speech of the common herd to find a reason for doubting. Let us then go on where we left off by considn enng whether I perceived more perfectly and more evidently what the wax was, when I first encountered it, and believed that I knew Igcaguascere] 1t by these external senses, or at least by what they call the _00mmon sense’,* that is, the imaginative power; or whether I perceive It better now, after I have more carefully investigated both what it is 311d how it is known [cognosmtur]. Certainly it would be foolish to «PM that I have a much better grasp of it now. For what, if any— thing, was distinct in my original perception? What was there, if any— thing, that seemed to go beyond the perception of the lowest animals?* gm on the other hand, when I distinguish the wax from its external nIts, and, as if I had stripped olf its garments, consider it in all its 33 34 24 S “and Meditation nakedness, then, indeed, although there may still be error in my judge- ments, I cannot perceive it in this way except by the human mind. But what, then, shall I say about this mind, or about myself? For I do not yet accept that there is anything in me but a mind. What, I say, am I who seem to perceive this wax so distinctly? Do I not know [rognosm] myself not only much more truly, much more cer— tainly, but also much more distinctly and evidently than the wax? For, if I judge that the wax exists, for the reason that I see it, it is cer— tainly much more evident that I myself also exist, from the very fact that I am seeing it. For it could be the case that what I am seeing is not really wax; it could be the case that I do not even have eyes with which to see anything; but it certainly cannot be the case, when I see something, or when I think I am seeing something (the difference is irrelevant for the moment), that I myself who think should not be something. By the same token, if I judge that the wax exists, for the reason that I am touching it, the same consequence follows: namely, that I exist. If I judge it exists, for the reason I am imagining it, or for any other reason, again, the same certainly applies. But what I have realized in the case of the wax, I can apply to anything that exists out— side myself. Moreover, if the perception of the wax appeared more distinct after it became known to me from many sources, and not from sight or touch alone, how much more distinctly—it must be admitted—I now know [cognom] myself. For there are no reasons that can enhance the perception either of the wax or of any other body at all that do not at the same time prove better to me the nature of my own mind. But there are so many things besides in the mind itself that can serve to make the knowledge [notion] of it more dis— tinct, that there seems scarcely any point in listing all the perceptions that flow into it from the body. But I see now that, without realizing it, I have ended up back where I wanted to be. For since I have now learned that bodies them— selves are perceived not, strictly speaking, by the senses or by the imaginative faculty, but by the intellect alone, and that they are not perceived because they are touched or seen, but only because they are understood, I clearly realize [ragnosm] that nothing can be per— ceived by me more easily or more clearly than my own mind. But since a long—held opinion is a habit that cannot so readily be laid aside, I intend to stop here for a while, in order to fix this newly acquired knowledge more deeply in my memory by long meditation. THIRD MEDITATION OF GOD, THAT HE EXISTS I shall now close my eyes, I shall block up my ears, I shall divert all my senses, and I shall even delete all bodily images from my thought or, since this is virtually impossible to achieve, at least count them as empty and worthless; and I shall try, by conversing only with myself and looking deep within myself, to make myself gradually better known and more familiar to myself. I am a thinking thing, that is, one that doubts, affirms, denies, understands a few things, is ignorant of many others, wills this and not that, and also imagines and perceives by the senses; for as I have already remarked, although the things I perceive or imagine outside myself do not perhaps exist, yet I am certain that the modes of thinking that I call sensations and imagin— ations, considered purely and simply as modes of thinking, do exist 35 inside me. And this, short as it is, is a complete list of what I truly know [iris], or at least of what, up to now, I have realized thatI know. Now I shall examine more carefully whether perhaps there are any further items of knowledge in my possession to which I have not yet paid attention. I am certain that I am a thinking thing. But do I not therefore also know what is required in order for me to be certain of something? For in this first act of knowledge [cognitione] there is nothing other than a clear and distinct perception of what I affirm to be the case; and this certainly would be insuflicient to make me certain of the truth of the matter, if it could ever come to pass that something I per— ceived so clearly and distinctly was false. And therefore I seem already to be able to lay down, as a general rule, that everything I very clearly and distinctly perceive is true. And yet there are many things that I once accepted as completely Certain and obvious, that I have since realized were doubtful. What kind of things were these? The earth, the sky, the stars, and every— thing else I became aware of through the senses. But what did I (dearly perceive here? Certainly, that the ideas or thoughts of such tlungs Were present to my mind. And even now I do not deny that tl'lese ideas exist in ine. But there was something else that I was afiil’ming, and that, because I was used to believing it, I thought ‘r—Fh-m _. . ? ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/18/2010 for the course IHUM 57 taught by Professor Lowood,h;bukatman,s during the Fall '08 term at Stanford.

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Descartes Meditation 1-2 - 16 1 2 Synopsis explained in...

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