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Descartes Method of Universal Doubt in the

First Meditation

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Question 1:

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. In 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 Descrates doubts all the beliefs that are inspired by our senses is to show that
science was based on the 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 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 to 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 loop hole. He alleged that God was great enough to come
up with good judgement 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 doubt (Hatfield 2). Thus, it is evident that we are
often tricked even in our knowledge of mathematics and physics about the globes basic
structure. To those who believe that God is not deceptive, Descartes introduces an evil demon.
According to his argument on evil demon, 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.

Descates 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 truth that while
he is present, He cannot be tricked into believing the 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 to 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 selfcontradictory. 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.

Works Cited
Skirry, Justin. Descartes, Rene: Overview. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (2008): Web.
15 Dec 2013.
Hatfield, Gary. Ren Descartes., 2008. Web. 15 Dec 2013.
Oregonstate.Edu. Descartes Meditations., 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013.
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