Surname 1Name:University:Course:Tutor:Date: Reflection on Descartes’ Meditation One Introduction This essay is a reflection on Descartes’ meditation. The paper is a critical analysis ofDescartes’ use of the skeptical strategy in Meditation; Concerning Those Things That Can BeCalled into Doubt. This work further brings forth the demonstrations of the arguments aboutsense, dreaming, mathematics and the evil demon. The paper also tries to establish whetherDescartes have successfully brought into doubt sense, imagination and reason. Finally, the paperidentifies specific point made concerning our perceptual faculties when Descartes realized thathe cannot doubt his own existence. In his first of the six meditations, Descartes suggests that he has been deceived over alonger period of time, and the only way to establish certainty is to doubt everything he believedin. This included not only the evidence of the senses and the profligate cultural assumptions buteven the basic route of reasoning. He held that if any truth about everything in the world can beable to stand the challenge from skeptics, then it is unquestionable truth and opt to be thefoundation of knowledge. He asserts that demolishing everything and starting afresh soundsgood and the only way to do it (Bennett, 76).
Surname 2 Appreciating the fact that knowledge is power, it will only be sound and rational if wecould beat skeptics in their own game by coming up with various possible bases for doubts. This,followed by mechanisms to prove certainty of assumptions held will result to facts that can notbe doubted. This gives rooms for human to continuously reason, vital for human developmentand well being. Descartes’ use of the skeptical strategy in Meditation I In his first meditation, Descartes holds the opinion that doubting everything is the onlysure way for him not to be misled into falsehood. His aim to use skeptic strategy rests on the ideathat defeating them in their own game will be result to indubitable facts. The method of doubthelps him to further win against skeptics. The philosopher uses three main arguments in his skeptic strategy. These argumentsinclude; dream, deceiving God and the evil Genius. All these three approaches hold that we donot directly see external objects but rather through what our minds tell us which are the imagesformed by the external objects in our minds. For this reason, in order for Descartes to prove that science stems from a sound andstrong foundation, which lay in the mind and not our senses use skeptics to bring to question ourbeliefs which come to us via our senses. It is worth noting that his arguments are not meant todisapprove existence of external objects or the possibilities of us knowing that somethingexisted, but just to depict that our ability to know things (intelligence) through our senses leavesroom for questioning (doubt) According to Murphy, 3 Descartes believed that if the knowledge we have is obtained viasense, we are certain that everything outside of us ever existed. This implies that because we are
Surname 3not certain of existence of external objects, thus knowledge cannot be acquired through sense butthrough our minds. From the onset, this first meditation aimed at out-doing the skeptics in their own game bycoming up with the widest potential grounds for doubts, this ensures that what Descartes comesup with will be believed with no doubt. He ends by admitting that there is nothing that heinitially believed to be true that he cannot somewhat doubt. On this basis, he is thus obliged toensure that what enters his mind is always unquestionable fact. Arguments of senses, dreaming, mathematics and evil demon Descartes arguments about senses, dreaming, mathematics and evil demon open our eyes.According to Murphy, 1, Descartes argument on sense noted that relying on sense in respect toany given judgment concerning the external objects may be deceptive especially when humanare faced with things that are perceptive and beyond reach. For this reason he says it will becareful not to belief and rely on the senses we have. On the other hand, although sense sometimes fails, it does not deceive us always, becauseif it indeed could, then we could not be able to distinguish moments of deception. How peoplesee themselves compromise the reliability of depending on our senses. For this reason man candeny obvious things and or support those that go against the reality. Thus, we are consideredlunatics. What is brought out clearly is that all human being use senses, even the insane one, butthe only problem with them (insane) is that they don’t correct the deformations supervening ontheir acuity and self-perception by high caliber of reasoning. Distinguishing madness and goodsense is vital as sensible people. Senses help us establish those of us who are insane in thesociety, isolate them and treat them as socially deviant individuals.
Surname 4 In his argument about dreaming Descartes holds that dreams are a non-pathological tomadness. He asserts that all of us sleep and dream imagining the same thing the insane imaginewhen they are awake. Distinguishing dream experience and waking experience is a difficult andalmost impossible task. To him dreams depict that even under normal mental conditions oursensory knowledge can be deceptive. This is attributed to the fact that it has occurred to himseverally that he was clothed and by the fire while indeed he was naked and lying in his bed. Through his argument, man has been shown to be capable of sensing things thatundermine the trustworthiness of his senses. Dreams lack clarity and distinctness and cannotcompromise what we perceive while we are a wake. This thus gives us the ability todistinguished valid perceptions from those that are only dreams; hence only belief the obviousand discrete walking perceptions. Another kind of dream which he termed vivid dreams bring trouble to man as he cannotdifferentiate with certainty between walking perception and vivid dreams, thus his walkingperception offers no valid knowledge since man is thus not sure it is not a type of a dream. Thisdoesn’t mean that nothing which is of reality can be conveyed by our senses. Descartes argument concerning mathematics on the basis of the dreaming argumentshows that empirical disciplines are doubtful while arithmetic, geometry things which deal withmost simple and general things are indubitable truths (Lex, 7). He said that whether he is a sleepor not two plus three will add up to five and a square has no other four sides. Therefore, verysimple and general things in life are impossible to be shown to have some falsehood in them.Thus transparent truths together with those that can be demonstrated together with variousjudgment of internal sense are known.
Surname 5 His argument about the evil demon shows that indeed it the source of our deception. Theevil demon has the ability to cheat us just as Descartes thought God could do, deceiving us fromeven the most unquestionable issues. Descartes’ doubt of sense, imagination and reason In my own opinion, I believe that Descartes has successfully brought doubt to sense,imagination and reason. He clearly and successfully doubted human sense by using his own. Hecame to a conclusion that our sense can deceive us especially when the thing is perceptive andbeyond our reach. He was quick to read the other side of the coin where he asserted that, this isnot always true, if indeed it were then we could not be able to distinguish deception (Murphy, 2). Coming to the issue of imagination, he asserts to my satisfaction that the general thingswe see are representations of bodies, arms among others. Imagination brings about the novelthings but cannot invent their own simple components. He likens it to a cubist painter that usesimple and universal ideas to show reality. On reasoning, he argues out that it is what helps todistinguish the sane and in sane persons When Descartes cannot doubt his own existence According to Bennett, 77 the point that clearly comes out when the philosopher did notdoubt his existence is that our mind, intellect, understanding, reasoning and soul are all equatedto thinking. He came to the conclusion that he un doubtfully exist after asking himself who hewas, he later concluded he is a thinking think. We are also made to understand as human we need to acknowledge doubting, will,refusal, imagination, denial, senses and affirmation
Surname 6 Conclusion Descartes first mediation aims at bringing everything in to doubt, questioning thecredibility of our own thinking. He does this successfully by clearly bringing doubt about theissue of reasoning, dreaming (imagination), evil demon, deceiving God, mathematics. As human,I believe that knowledge is vital in development of mankind. For this reason it will only berational to have indubitable foundation of knowledge. His strategy to use skeptics and the method of doubt has proven beyond doubt that hisarguments are rational, his main goal in adopting this strategy was to beat skeptics in their owngame. In establishing without doubt about his existence, the point brought forth is that man is athinking thing.
Surname 7 Works CitedBennett, Jonathan. “Truth and Stability in Descartes Meditations,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 16.1 (1990): 75–108. PrintLex, Newman. Descartes Epistemology. 2010. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes- epistemology/ [accessed 15 September 2010]Murphy, Sean. Descartes: Overcoming skepticism in the Meditations, 2010. http://www.helium.com/items/902527-descartes-overcoming-skepticism-in-the- meditations [accessed 15 September 2010]