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col-4 - Descartes Meditations First Meditation Mediator...

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Descartes – “Meditations” First Meditation Mediator reflects on number of falsehoods he has believed during life o Leads to faultiness of the body of knowledge he has built up o Therefore – discards all he thinks he knows and starts again Builds up knowledge once more on certain grounds Rather than doubt every opinion o Reasons he can cast all opinions into doubt If he can doubt the foundations that formed these opinions Everything that is accepted – comes from senses o Sometimes senses can deceive Convinced during dreams that he is sensing real objects o Even dream images are drawn from experience Though he can doubt composite things o Cannot doubt simple universal parts from which they are constructed
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Shape, size, quantity, time, etc. Realizes even simple things can be doubted o God could make conception of math false Argument – God is supremely good Would not lead him to believe false things If we suppose there is no God o Greater likelihood of being deceived Imperfect sense not created by a perfect being Supposes some evil being is deceiving him o To make think everything he knows is false o By doubting everything He is sure not to be misled Doubt is employed against Aristotelian philosophy Foundation of modern skepticism All knowledge comes from the senses o Appeals to Aristotelian philosophers “Dream Argument”
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o Suggests the universal possibility of dreaming Never know which moments are dreams and which is real o OR Possibility of universal dream Whole life is a dream – no waking world Evil Demon argument o Suggests that all we know is false and we cannot trust the senses o Does away with Aristotelian epistemology Dream argument o Possibility of universal dreaming Suggests only that the senses are not always wholly reliable o Questions Aristotelian epistemology Wants to persuade Aristotelian readers to purge themselves of prejudices o Lead the mind away from the senses Most certain knowledge – Comes from the mind, unaided by senses Main question – How can we claim to know with certainty anything about the world around us
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o These doubts are not probable But the possibility cannot be ruled out If we can never be certain, how can we claim to know anything? Second Meditation “The nature of the human mind, and how it is better known than the body” Supposes o What he sees does not exist o Memory is faulty o He has no senses and no body o Perhaps the only certain thing is no certainty at all He is the source of the Meditations Conceded he has no senses and no body o Does that mean he cannot exist? Notes the physical world does not exist o Implies his nonexistence
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BUT o To have these doubts, he must exist For a demon to mislead him, he must exist to be misled There must be an “I” that can doubt and be deceived “I am, I exist” o True whenever it is put forward by the mind
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