Rene Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy

In: Business and Management

Submitted By zakali
Words 1853
Pages 8
Zakareaeltayeb Ali
Professor Gary Toop
PHL 550
June 5th, 2014
Rene Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy
Rene Descartes, known as one of the most influential philosophers of his time, is famously quoted to have been proven the existence of himself with the infamous statement, Cogito ergo sum or (in English) I think, therefore I am. Rene Descartes has claimed to have proven his own existence in this world by claiming that he is in fact a thinking thing, and that therefore he must be something that exists. This raises the question, how can Descartes truly prove to us that in fact he thinks, and how can he prove that since he thinks he therefore can say that he exists? In this essay I will be explaining the reasoning’s of proof as to why Descartes says that he thinks and that therefore he exists, and I will give sufficient support as to why Rene Descartes is in fact correct about his claims that he has stated in his Philosophy of Mediations. The evidence that I will be providing in support for Descartes statement I think, therefore I am include, Descartes doubtfulness of all things he once believed to be true (which he says has been false lies to have been told to him all of his life) (A. w. Bailey, First Philosphy, Second Edition 26-28), secondly his three proofs for his skepticism mentioned in the first piece of evidence listed previously (Descartes asking if he is dreaming or if he is really awake, his painters argument of how dream like/ images arise from real things, and an evil like demon trying to trick Rene Descartes into thinking that he is not actually in existence), thirdly the wax argument (aka the change of shape and how its perceived through the mind), and finally the distinction of the mind and the body (the famous concept of dualism) where Descartes realizes that he thinks and therefore it must mean that he does in fact exist. The first piece…...

Similar Documents

Descartes - Meditation on First Philosophy

...How Descartes Use Methodological Skepticism to Articulate a Foundationalist Conception of Knowledge Descartes is the first modern philosopher who rejects Aristotelianism and starts foundationalism, which is of great controversy but extreme importance in modern philosophy. In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes utilizes methodological skepticism to present the foundationalist conception of knowledge, in which a belief can only be considered knowledge when it is based on basic principles, or principles that are justified without appealing to any external ideas or facts. Under the methodological skepticism, a person can test a belief by asking the question “Could it be false?” If the answer is “Yes,” the belief is not necessarily true and is not considered knowledge. This is the perfect tool for presenting a foundationalist conception of knowledge, unless there is an omnipotent being who can deceive people to think wrongly about these basic principles. Therefore, the existence of an omnipotent God and proof that God is not a deceiver is then presented in order to reject all doubts about the foundationalist conception of knowledge. A foundationalist conception of knowledge is a conception of academic discipline: one can only trust real knowledge that is based on basic principles. If a principle is wrong sometimes or is possibly wrong, it is not basic. If the principle is self-evident, showing its own truth, or is justified without appealing to any external ideas or......

Words: 1257 - Pages: 6


...Emerson’s Unifying Philosophy Throughout human existence, scholars have earnestly pursued knowledge and the attainment of truth. Historical figures such as Plato, Descartes, and Emerson sought answers to daunting questions of: ‘What is truth?’; ‘What is reality?’; ‘How is wisdom acquired?’ Many scholars believe these philosophers presented conflicting viewpoints: Plato encouraging skepticism among all previous historical, cultural, and personal perspectives; Descartes questioning definitions of reality and his very existence; Emerson encouraging self-trust and confidence in one’s ideals, opinions, and convictions. Surprisingly, reconciliation can be reached from these three differing hypotheses. Emerson’s thesis merely expounds from Descartes and Plato’s philosophies. He builds from Descartes’ search for self-identity and reconciles Plato’s skepticism with his views of self-trust and unconformity among scholars. Throughout “Mediations I and II”, Descartes disputes definitions of reality and identity, establishing a precursor to Emerson’s philosophy. Initially, Descartes questions all notions of being. In “Mediation I”, Descartes begins his argument explaining the senses which perceive reality can be deceptive and “it is wiser not to trust entirely to any thing by which we have once been deceived” (Descartes 59). But, he then continues to reason; “opinions [are] in some measure doubtful…and at the same time highly probable, so that there is much more reason to believe......

Words: 1008 - Pages: 5

Descartes' Meditation

...Philosophy essay #3: Descartes’ Meditations 996922415 The debate as to whether or not God exists is a crucial question in philosophy. René Descartes formulates the idea of the all good being, God, in Meditation Three of his essay entitled, Meditations on First Philosophy. The philosopher begins his essay doubting everything that is around him, his senses, his thoughts, and even basic arithmetic. The reason he wrote the essay was to find truth to his existence. It seems logical that Descartes introduced the evil demon, one that tries to instill doubt into the simplest of things, but the introduction of God being an all perfect being that does not let him be deceived, is not logically adequate. Descartes begins criticizing everything around him, essentially being a skeptic, but he ends up introducing an explanation, God, in order to answer the questions of doubt. I strongly disagree with Descartes’ introduction of God in Meditation Three because he is not being consistent with the methods of the first two meditations therefore not achieving his goal of solving questions of doubt. In Meditation One, Descartes begins to doubt everything he has experienced to date. He asks himself whether he exists, whether has past experiences actually happened and whether his senses are true to him. He finds senses to be deceptive sometimes and therefore believes that he cannot completely trust them. He even states the most obvious truths, such as arithmetic and geometry, could be false.......

Words: 961 - Pages: 4


...Descartes and Rationalism René Descartes, 1596-1650 (Latin Renatus Cartesius, hence the term Cartesian) Descartes’ Project Descartes was a contemporary of Galileo and Kepler. He was born about 50 years after the publication of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus. Thus he lived right at the beginning of the scientific revolution, as the medieval world view was beginning to collapse. Descartes was a mathematician and physicist, as well as a philosopher. He was the first to offer a system of mechanics that applied both to terrestrial and heavenly bodies. His system was based on a set of laws governing the motions of particles, including various types of collisions. These laws, though unsuccessful, were a precursor of Newton’s laws of motion, and Huygens’ solution to the collision problem. Descartes had the disturbing experience of finding out that everything he learned at school was wrong. From 1604-1612 he was educated at a Jesuit school, where he learned the standard medieval, scholastic, Aristotelian philosophy. In 1619 he had some disturbing dreams, and embarked on his life’s work of rebuilding the whole universe, since the Aristotelian universe was doomed. (Descartes didn’t suffer from lack of ambition!) The problem for Descartes was that he couldn’t merely tinker with the medieval picture, fixing it up here and there, because it was fundamentally wrong. It was rotten to its very foundations. The only way to proceed was to tear it down completely, and start building again from......

Words: 2471 - Pages: 10

Rene Descartes

...College Algebra 1414 March 25, 2008 Rene Descartes René Descartes was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. He has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Philosophy" and the "Father of Modern Mathematics."But famous for his saying, "Cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am," which is used in Philosphy. His influence in mathematics is also apparent, the Cartesian coordinate system that is used in plane geometry and algebra being named for him, and he was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis. One of Descartes most enduring legacies was his development of Cartesian geometry, the algebraic system taught in schools today. He also created exponential notation, indicated by numbers written in what is now referred to as superscript (x²). Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine, Indre-et-Loire, France. When he was one year old, his mother Jeanne Brochard died of tuberculosis. His father Joachim was a judge in the High Court of Justice. At the age of eleven, he entered the Jesuit College Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Fleche. After graduation, he studied at the University of Poitiers, earning a Baccalaureat and License in law in 1616, in accordance with his father's wishes that he should become a lawyer. Descartes never actually practiced law, however...

Words: 850 - Pages: 4

Rene Descartes

...Rene Descartes When the term modern philosophy is mentioned, it is usually to make a distinction from ancient and medieval philosophy therefore it does not only mean the philosophy of the 21st century, it means, the philosopher Rene Descartes. Therefore in practice what the term, modern philosophy means is, philosophy from Descartes onwards. He was best known for his quote, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ (I think, therefore I am). Descartes was born on March 31st 1596, in La Haye, a small town in France. He was educated in classics, logic and the philosophy of Aristotle at the Jesuit college of Henri IV in La Fleche. After he graduated he studied at the University of Poitiers, obtaining his law license in 1616. He then joined the army and during his spare time he studied mathematics (Gaukroger and Hall, 1995). In 1619, he experienced the series of powerful dreams, which influenced him greatly in his pursuit of science and knowledge, and he acknowledged this ass his focal point of his life (Gaukroger and Hall, 1995). Descartes spent time in various parts of Europe before he settled in Dutch Republic. He maintained his studies and lived in various places throughout the Republic. During this time, he began his writing career, and he started to publish his new works that would revolutionize mathematics and philosophy, these works included the world, meditation of first philosophy, principles of philosophy and passions of the soul. His mathematical theories provided the basis for......

Words: 1045 - Pages: 5

Descartes Mind and Body

...Descartes’ Mind Body Dualism Rene Descartes’ main purpose is to attempt to prove that the mind that is the soul or the thinking thing is distinct and is separate from the body. This thinking thing was the core of himself, which doubts, believes, reasons, feels and thinks. Descartes considers the body to be an extended unthinking thing; therefore it is possible that one may exist without the other. This view is known as mind-body dualism. He believes that what he is thinking in his mind is what God created and instilled in him. Descartes outlines many arguments to support and prove his claims of his discoveries. He states that because he can think, his mind exists. This is known as the Cogito, which is the first existential principal of all of Descartes’ work where modern philosophy begins. Descartes also explains that it is possible that all knowledge of external objects, including his body could be false because of the deceiving actions of an evil genius. The evil genius could make him contemplate his existence of his nature as a thinking thing. Descartes further explains in his arguments, even physical objects, such as the body, are better and more distinctly known through the mind than through the body. Descartes shows this through his example of The Wax Argument, where solid wax transitions into liquid state. With all of this in mind, Descartes theories suggest the mind and body can exist separately but it can be argued, the mind needs the body in order to think and......

Words: 1480 - Pages: 6

Descartes on the Distinction Between Body and Mind

...Name Tutor Course Date Descartes Premise for Distinguishing Body and Mind In the Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes discusses the nature of the body and mind. By drawing from three lines of thought, Descartes launches a powerful premise that the body is something distinct from the mind. He conceptualizes his argument by using the uncertainty of knowledge argument, appealing to God’s omnipotence, and describing the indivisibility of the body and mind. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze Descartes’s premise for distinguishing the body and mind. In the first Meditation, Descartes begins by discussing a topic that seems far removed from the subject, yet instrumental to his argument. He questions the certainty of reality or truth of worldly opinions. In meditations 1.5, he notes that his opinions about the world are based on senses and argues that he cannot be certain that his senses deceive him. He argues that he cannot be sure that what he thinks of as his perceptions of the world are not dreams (Cress 36). Because there is no mechanism for distinguishing sleep from wake, Descartes says that he is also uncertain about the existence of the body. In addition, he argues that an evil demon may be deceiving him about the existence of the sky, air, colors, sounds, and bodies yet such things are illusions of dreams (Cress 41). By reflecting on the scenario of the evil demon and dreaming, Descartes doubts whether external things such as the body...

Words: 1181 - Pages: 5

Rene Descartes

...René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer of the 17th century. He was dissatisfied with the philosophy of his time which was dominated by scholastic philosophy, which sought to answer highly abstract philosophical questions mainly on the basis of Aristotle’s teachings. Descartes was dissatisfied with this kind of philosophy because he considered their highly abstract arguments senseless. Because of this dissatisfaction, Descartes tried to create a whole new system of thought that would unify all knowledge. As a result, René Descartes has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy”. René Descartes is the man credited to the famous dictum, Cogito Ergo Sum which translates to “I think, therefore I am”. Can one really prove that something, anything exists by this? I would like to believe that the cogito phrase holds an absolute truth. Come to think of this, if you’re even having these profound thoughts of questioning whether anything exists or not, if you even really care about purpose, the meaning, existence, why you are here or if you are real, can’t you then establish that you exist? Just by the mere fact that you are doing the process of examining yourself, you inside know that you are a complex creature, you truly do exists. If you’re looking at questions of self purpose and meaning and the existence of God, none of it would make sense but for the fact that you exists. Only you and you alone can prove that you exist, and that proof......

Words: 403 - Pages: 2

Rene Descartes

...Rene Descartes Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is generally considered to be one of the most influential Philosophers of the modern Western world. He has been called the founder of modern philosophy. Descartes was the first man of any influence in philosophy to be interested and affected by physics and astronomy. He also refused to accept the views of his predecessors, preferring to work out everything for himself. He was the first man to attempt this since Aristotle. There was freshness about his work that had not been seen from any philosopher since Plato. To begin by doubting everything was the necessary first step in order to sweep away all past presumptions and eliminate all issues that were confusing human knowledge. He also isolated only those truths he himself could directly experience and substantiate. This approach of questioning and skeptical nature meant that Descartes was able to make breakthroughs in philosophy not available to earlier philosophers who had accepted other people’s views as true. The existence of God has been a question since the idea of God was conceived. Rene Descartes tries to prove God's existence, and to show that there is without a doubt something external to ones own existence. He is looking for a definite certainty, a foundation for which he can base all of his beliefs and know that they are true. Descartes' overall project is to find a definite certainty on which he can base all his knowledge and beliefs. I totally agree with......

Words: 1842 - Pages: 8

Rene Descartes

...Rene Descartes Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Value Theory Asma Naheed Introduction to Philosophy Mr. Ferguson 13 May 2016 Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was a very important philosopher in the 17th century. Many regard to Descartes as the father of modern philosopher. His famous statement "Cogito ero sum" is widely known and studied. He contributed much to mathematics as well as philosophy. What does my philosopher believe is real? One thing my philosopher believes is real is the certainty of the existence of god. René Descartes has an awareness about god. And acknowledges the existence of god. One of Descartes metaphysics is his certainty about god which is examined in his Fifth Mediations “Descartes holds that the idea of God is a true and immutable nature and hence it is not something that can be rejected at all in so far as it is ultimately an innate idea”. His view is similar like mine regarding the belief of god. Though his process for believing in god is quite different then of mine, we both have a strong belief in god. My View on Rene Descartes metaphysics regarding the existence of god is disagreement. Descartes argues that god exists beyond any doubt, but I disagree. My view is not like his because, I believe his proof of good relies mostly on false premises. Descartes argues that god exists but what is the actuality of god he does not answer. An example of this can be illustrated by a student doubting whether or not they will make a good grade on the...

Words: 1980 - Pages: 8

Rene Descartes

...RENE DESCARTES’ METHODS OF DOUBT Introduction The theory of knowledge and analytical method advanced by the French philosopher Rene Descartes is often summed up in the famous phrase, Cogito ergo sum- “I think, therefore I am.” While this phrase does express the final step in his systematic process of “doubting everything,” it is a gross over-simplification of Descartes’ methods. Descartes did use systematic doubt to find the starting point for his theory of knowledge, but his other philosophical inquiries involved several different methods of doubting, from simply imagining that which is contradictory, to carrying logical postulates to absurd conclusions, to the more traditional methods of testing syllogisms and analyzing proofs. In this essay, I will examine Rene Descartes’ various methods of doubt, to show that the philosopher did not rely on the single reductio ad absurdum in his famous proof of his own existence. Descartes, as we will see, employed several different approaches to philosophical proofs, and he was not the mechanistic logician that his mathematical background might suggest. It will be the argument of this essay that Descartes applied different methods of doubt to different problems, depending upon whether the problem was epistemological, scientific or theological in nature. Existential Doubt: Do I Exist? The first and best-known method of doubt employed by Descartes involves reductionism, in the sense that he used a negative or reverse logical......

Words: 2190 - Pages: 9

For What We May Hope According to Descartes

...In his book, “Mediation of First Philosophy’’, Rene Descartes attempts to separate the truth from false and the imaginary from reality while giving new hope to his readers. He actually tries to withdraw from his previous conclusions claiming that he could have used senses rather than thinking and therefore this round he withdraws totally from senses through a process of methodological doubt. He creates a sense of doubt in other scholars work by disputing their line of thinking with a distinguished line of logic. He sheds off any criticism directed at him and urges his readers to argue along his line of logic to get his concept and reason. HOW OR WHY THE COGITO EGO SUM IS HOPEFUL. Descartes concludes that he cannot doubt his existence. He argues that doing so would mean that even the idea of doubting would not exist and as far as it exists, then its source is him, his mind. However, the existence of the body puts him in a situation of doubt. He thinks that the idea of a mind implanted in a body is a deception and forms a basis of argument and cross psychological analysis. He goes ahead to state that this would be demons work of deceiving him or it can be that God was praying tricks on him, something he really doesn’t conquer with. God being perfect, He would not do that. ‘I think, therefore I am’ in the Discourse on method is hopeful because it brings out the picture of knowledge, that the mind can know itself better than it can do to anything else. Descartes is certain......

Words: 912 - Pages: 4

Philosophy Descartes

...Descartes' Methodic Doubt René Descartes (1596-1650) is an example of a rationalist. According to Descartes, before we can describe the nature of reality (as is done in metaphysics) or say what it means for something to be or exist (which is the focus of ontology), we must first consider what we mean when we say we know what reality, being, or existence is. He suggests that it is pointless to claim that something is real or exists unless we first know how such a claim could be known as a justified true belief. But to say that our beliefs are justified, we have to be able to base them ultimately on a belief that is itself indubitable. Such a belief could then provide a firm foundation on which all subsequent beliefs are grounded and could thus be known as true. This way of thinking about knowledge is called foundationalism. In his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), Descartes indicates how we are able to guarantee our beliefs about reality by limiting what we believe to what is indubitable or is based on what is indubitable. That involves him in a series of six "meditations" (of which we will focus on only the first two) about the proper method of philosophical reflection and the conclusions that can be drawn from using that method. Throughout these Meditations Descartes insists that (1) we should claim to know only that for which we have justification, (2) we cannot appeal to anything outside of our ideas for such justification, and (3) we judge our ideas using a......

Words: 1949 - Pages: 8

Introduction to Philosophy - Mill, Plato, Descartes

... The First Meditation discusses the importance of doubting everything. Releasing the prejudices that one is accustomed to, one finds himself in need to embark a search for knowledge based on a foundation of solid truths. Descartes establishes that in order to doubt his present opinions, he needs simple reasons, and rather than doubt his all his opinions individually, he has to admit that the entirety of his beliefs is wrong. Everything the author accepts as true he has come to learn from his senses, and though the senses can sometimes deceive with objects that are either very small or far away, he admits that our sensory knowledge is sturdy. In the Second Meditation, after making the choice to doubt everything, the author comes to the conclusion that his body and his senses must not exist, but does that mean he himself does not exist either? And if one doubts the existence of his or her body and senses, then the rest of the world must not exist either, therefore, one is persuaded that he himself does not exist. This leads the author to the conclusion that he exists, since he was there to be persuaded. Descartes reasons that while we must doubt everything, "doubting" is a form of thinking, which is solid proof that the he that is doing the thinking exists, and is a thinking thing. If something is believed to be true by the majority or the ruling class, does not necessitate it to be true. John Stuart Mill in On Liberty emphasizes three types of liberty; the first one......

Words: 1910 - Pages: 8

Sensei Oshiete Ageru | Giant Kids City Road Play Mat Childrens Car Road Carpet Rug EVA Foam Toy Playmat | Who's Watching Oliver