November 13, 2012
Cogito ergo sum, a phrase that is said to be the fundamental element of western philosophy and what was the centerpiece of Rene Descartes’ epistemology. It is a simple statement but one that sets the standard for a principle upon which all knowledge is based. Many sources assess René Descartes to be the father of modern philosophy. In his lifetime he had made many noteworthy contributions to mathematics and physics. And there are of course his philosophical contributions in the theory of knowledge. His most famous work was his epistemological project, Meditations on First Philosophy which after his was completed Descartes’ work was passed on to other philosophers for their comments and criticisms. Descartes responded with detailed replies that provide a rich source of further information about the original work. He published the first edition of the Meditations together with six sets of objections and replies in 1621 and added a seventh set with the second edition a year later in 1642. René Descartes’ did not agree and was able to disprove the traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy most common during his time. He also developed and promoted a new philosophy, what is now called western philosophy. Both these points justify his title of being the “Father of Modern Philosophy". His foundational break with Scholastic philosophy involved two facts; first, because of the reliance on sensation as the source for all knowledge Descartes thought that the Scholastics’ method was likely to lead to doubt. Second, he wanted to replace final causal model of scientific explanation with the more modern, mechanistic model which would involve mathematics and physics. The first issue Descartes had with Aristotelian philosophy was that it wasn't concrete and based on feelings so Descartes attempted to address this issue with his method of doubt. His basic strategy was to consider false any belief that could lead...
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