12 - Now things get confusing. Descartes retreated from the...

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Now things get confusing. Descartes retreated from the hypothesis that God is a deceiver to the hypothesis that there is a malignant genius (or evil demon) bent on deceiving him. This hypothesis accomplishes the same end as the dream argument, that is, casts doubt on our use of the senses to detect the existence of any external objects. And although Descartes does not say so, it seems that this malignant spirit is capable of casting doubt on the use of rational intuition. I say it seems so, because Descartes puts no limits on the power of this evil demon. So is there any use of reason that is safe? Descartes replied that there is one: the detection of his own existence. So long as he is thinking about his own existence, he cannot doubt that he exists. Even a malignant genius cannot subvert this use of reason, since the very process of subversion requires the existence of the mind and the faculty which would be subverted. Descartes's use of this argument is not original. Augustine had used this argument many
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 102 taught by Professor Markelwin during the Winter '10 term at UC Davis.

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12 - Now things get confusing. Descartes retreated from the...

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