Giovanny MederosPhilosophy 14/4/18Descartes AssignmentIn Descartes’ first meditation from the Meditations, Descartes presents the idea of doubting all of our most fundamentally held beliefs to ensure that they are true.
Descartes starts the meditation by reflecting on the number of false beliefs he has believed to be true in his early years. He comes to the conclusion that he has built a faulty foundation with false beliefs he had formerly admitted as true. Descartes resolves to get rid of the false knowledge he had previously acquired and build a new foundation with irrefutable beliefs.
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Descartes’ goal was to build to build a new strong foundation by doubting everything, until he encounters certain irrefutable beliefs which he cannot doubt. His method in doing so was to put every single belief under intense scrutiny and if it could be doubted, it did not belong in the foundations. This where Descartes begins his radical skepticism. Descartes comes to the conclusion that most of the knowledge he has come to obtain has come through the senses. Descartes is also aware that anything he has learned through the senses can be doubted as the senses can also be deceptive.
He believes it is wise doubt any knowledge that comes from something that has already deceived us before. However, Descartes is also aware that there are certain things that he has learned through senses which he cannot doubt. For example, he cannot doubt that he is seated near his fire place, dressed in his gown and writing the meditations. Or how could he doubt that his hands or body are not his unless he is loony who could easily be deceived. However, Descartes takes his point about doubting our senses even further by examining how we feel when we are dreaming.
Descartes argues that when we are dreaming, we are not fully aware if it is reality or just dream. He states that while we are dreaming we can truly believe that we can smell, hear, taste, see and touch in the same way as we would if we were awake. He uses his own example of a dream where he couldn’t distinguish reality from a dream “How often has it happened to me that in the night I dreamt that I found myself in this particular place, that I was dressed and seated near the fire, whilst in reality I was lying undressed in bed!”. At the same time Descartes admits that the images we see in our dreams our only painted representations from our waking experiences. In the same way an artist may draw a mythical creature, like a unicorn, it is based off it’s real life counterparts a horse and a rhino.
The Cogito Argument is Descartes’ proof of our existence.The “Watermark Argument” is Descartes’ argument that the idea perfection proves Gods’ existence. Descartes states that there is a thought which we all innately have inside of us. This innate idea that we all have is perfection. However, this idea of perfection could not come from us, as we are imperfect beings and are incapable of producing ideas of perfection on our own.
The idea of perfection must come from something that is perfect, so therefore a perfect being must exist (i.e. god). The idea of perfection must be a watermark left behind by our creator. Descartes argues that God left the idea perfection in us as a way of proving that he is our creator. In the same way, someone would put a watermark on a photo or a paper to prove they are the original creator of the content.
Only a perfect being like God could the idea of perfection truly originate from.