Free Essay: Descartes’ Method of Universal Doubt in the First Meditation
Argue for Descartes’ philosophical method- – His search for certainty about philosophical issues– based on its model after the certainty outlined in the methods of mathematics and physics. State Descartes’ method, indicating how it is used in one of the Meditations, in addressing a particular philosophical issue, make a conclusion with reasons why Descartes was successful or not in the search for certainty based on the philosophical issue/Meditation under discussion.
Descartes’ Method of Universal Doubt in the First Meditation
Descartes is a renowned name that is recognized by many as the father of current philosophy. He was also an accomplished mathematician and meta-physician. In his first meditation, he began with the method of distrust, questioning almost everything. At the beginning of his first meditation, Descartes tries to cast doubts on all his experimental views with a single stroke. He states, ”I have occasionally realized the senses that are deceiving me. And it is better to never trust people who have at one time cheated on us.”
The reason why Descartes doubts all the beliefs that are inspired by our senses is to show that science was based on a strong foundation and this ideology laid in the mind and not senses (Skirry 1). His intention was to withhold evidence that nothing was in existence or that it is not easy for us to understand if anything really exists. However, he wanted to show that our knowledge of these things through the senses is open to hesitation. We could not even know that anything out of us existed if we came to the realization that our scientific knowledge was through our senses. Descartes’ main aim in this line of thought was to unearth the definite confidence on which he would base all knowledge.
Considering the fact that experience can sometimes be misleading, it is clear to Descartes that posterior arguments can raise discussions of knowledge. We do not understand that our senses develop into facts through experience, even though many do not realize it. And we are usually not capable of realizing when our senses are appropriately delivering factual information regarding the ways things are in reality. The most ideal option is to distrust if any knowledge can come from our intellect experiences.
Descartes further established another loophole. He alleged that God was great enough to come up with good judgment experiences and mathematical reasoning as faulty. He was not of the assumption that God is in-existent; he was just trying to speak according to his understanding on the concept of God, and this was something that even God would have done if he existed. He argued that we hold the belief in an all-powerful God who created all.
God is very powerful that he can make us be misled even about issues concerning mathematical knowledge which we seem to view without a doubt (Hatfield 2). Thus, it is evident that we are often tricked even in our knowledge of mathematics and physics about the globe’s basic structure. To those who believe that God is not deceptive, Descartes introduces an evil demon. According to his argument on the evil demons, he points out that nothing in our outside world is definitely convinced, and that this idea must be considered wrong if one really wants to proceed in the search for true knowledge.
Descartes concludes with the truth that in his presence, he cannot be deceived into believing that he does not exist. With regards to the Evil Spirit hypothesis, he notes that instead of blaming God as the origin of our deceptions, we should assume that there is an evil demon. And, this demon is capable of doing so. Ultimately, Descartes makes his conclusion with the truth that while he is present, He cannot be tricked into believing he is not.
Based on the hypothesis of the Evil Spirit, he argues that instead of assuming that God is the origin of our deceptions, it is better to assume that an evil demon exists, and this demon has the capability of doing so just similarly to God. Because of this, it is undoubted fact that Descartes has to find an alternative of redesigning the edifice of knowledge depending on the material generated from his mind. In this context, the first thing that he can be sure of is the fact that he exists. Descartes believed in advocating for the dreaming hypothesis to disintegrate the basic foundations of all beliefs acquired from sensory experience (Oregonnstate.Edu 1).
On the other hand, he also thought that there were several beliefs that were not challenged by the dreaming hypothesis. Whenever people dream, even though the particular beliefs they form are not true, the things they dream of are inspired by the experiences they have while awake. Descartes thinks that people can still have confidence that some of the things they envisage in their dreams are real. Due to this, the dreaming hypothesis fails to challenge our general belief of the truths that we hold concerning the world- the belief about the existence of physical objects (Skirry 1). In the same way, the dreaming argument does not give any reason that would make Descartes doubt his beliefs about mathematical knowledge. In the first meditation, he does not disprove the dreaming hypothesis.
The main argument against the dreaming concept raised by Descartes is that his reasoning is self-contradictory. It comes to the conclusion that there is no difference between dreaming and being awake. That people can have wrong experiences and Descartes points out that such emphasize on the illusory character of dreaming, presupposing the existence of such a distinction. However, his dreaming argument is not consistent.
Skirry, Justin. “Descartes, Rene: Overview.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (2008): Web. 15 Dec 2013.
Hatfield, Gary. “René Descartes.” Plato.stanford.edu, 2008. Web. 15 Dec 2013. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes/>.
Oregonstate.Edu. “Descartes’ Meditations.” Oregonstate.edu, 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. <http://oregonstate.edu/instruction/phl302/philosophers/meditations.html>.