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Wax Arguement

Wax Arguement - Descartes then talks about the different...

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John Tomberlin October 13. 2008 In Response to Descartes’ Meditations on Wax Descartes uses wax as a tool to explore our understanding of the outside world, our perceptions of the world. As he begins speaking about the wax; listing its color, smell and taste… he is appealing to our senses as a way to recognize it. He begins with his wax analysis this way because it is the most prevalent way that people see the world, through the sense, and is therefore the way most people would favor to determine the essence of something. Wax proves to be such a good tool for Descartes in this respect due to wax’s ability to change, and in doing so lose the characteristics that our senses use to identify it as wax. Descartes is saying that although the characteristics that one would use to describe wax all these change and yet the wax is still the same. This makes it clear that the essence of wax cannot be understood through the sense.
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Unformatted text preview: Descartes then talks about the different shapes that the wax can be molded into. He says that we can imagine the wax shaped as a triangle or as a square and probably countless other shapes, and yet Descartes argues that we still understand that the wax is capable of more forms that even we can imagine. Professor Hoffman was touching on this when he spoke about our cognitive ability to imagine multisided shapes in our head and how at a certain number of sides it becomes impossible to envision it. So shape, or wax’s ability to change shape for that matter, cannot be its essence either. Likewise, it is not within the realm of our imagination to understand wax’s essence. It is only through one type of understanding that we can find the essence of wax, reason. Through reason we can grasp that wax is simple an extension of matter....
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