Descartes

Descartes - Jon Williams PHL 100 Descartes objective is to...

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Jon Williams PHL 100 Descartes’ objective is to reform the thoughts and reasoning he has gained throughout his life and rebuild them on a foundation entirely his own. His method in accomplishing this is by ridding himself of all opinions he believes to be true. Descartes says this is “the true method for arriving at the knowledge of everything of which my mind would be capable” (Descartes 10). He makes the assumption that any idea that he finds to have a fallacy is not true. Descartes follows this method so strictly that if any opinion has the tiniest bit of falsehood behind it, he considers it incorrect. He believes that by doing this he will conduct his life in a much better way than if he were to continuously accept ideas that he had never previously doubted. An example used by Descartes to illustrate the reasoning behind his endeavor is the construction of a city. He explains that cities built by multiple architects and developed over time are often poorly laid out compared to those cities devised by a single architect at one time. Descartes claims the arrangement of cities built up over time are constructed more by chance than that of the planning of architects. Cities built by a single architect are much more likely to be organized and elegant. This is because, as Descartes explains, it is much harder to build upon the ideas of others than it is to build from the ground up solely on one’s own work. By far the simplest explanation Descartes gives for the reformation of his thoughts is that of a child and a man. He says that it is an impossible task to make correct judgments from our time of birth. Humans do not have the full use of their reason until they have become mature individuals. Our judgments and opinions would be much purer if we had full reasoning from the moment of birth. Descartes aims to not completely erase all that he has learned, but to reform his opinions to be pure and true. Williams 2 In order to perform the reformation of his thoughts, Descartes must show that any
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opinion which can be doubted is not true. Descartes does this by finding doubt in the foundations of his opinions rather than attempting to disprove every individual opinion which he believes. The foundations of all his beliefs are rooted in the senses, which deliver all that he has learned. Therefore, if he can doubt the validity of his senses he can doubt that anything learned through them is true. However, he does not seek to find many reasons for doubt. Descartes believes that he cannot trust his senses if they have deceived him just one time. He finds that his senses deceive him on many matters including distance and proportionality of objects. For example, Descartes eyes tell him that the sun is very small because when he looks at it appears small. Descartes goes on to further deliberate on the existence of his hands and other
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This document was uploaded on 10/25/2011 for the course PHL 101 at DePaul.

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Descartes - Jon Williams PHL 100 Descartes objective is to...

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