The Seeker of Indubitable Truths
Kharen Jade Tolentino
Reason & Feeling in Modern Philosophy GL PHIL 2620
Prof B. Logan
Wednesday, October 23, 12
Throughout history René Descartes has affected lives of philosophers and their ideas. Not only was René Descartes a well known philosopher he was well known for his application of algebra to geometry which led to the Cartesian geometry. In his Meditations on First Philosophy he attempted to provide philosophical evidence for the church and non-believers the existence of God and the idea that the mind is separate from the body (Descartes 2). By doing this Descartes abandoned everything he once deemed as true to create a new foundation of indubitable truths. However, by doing this he creates a problem amongst the community, he stresses that in order to understand these truths we must reject prejudice ideas and withdraw from the senses (Descartes 7). Before attempting to solve the existence of God Descartes talks about the existence of the mind as “Cogito Ergo Sum” and uses a metaphor called the “Wax Argument”. In this essay I will be discussing Descartes most famous works “Cogito Ergo Sum” and the relevance of his “Wax Argument”.
During Descartes course of meditation he explains the existence of the soul as he stated, “I am…precisely nothing but a thinking thing”(Descartes 16). This remark was created a day after Descartes concluded his first meditation that led him to doubt everything. He argued that the senses and dreams have the ability to deceive us into believing false truths (Descartes 10). He explains, that in sleep one does not know how to distinguish reality or dream, therefore, the sensations we perceive from external objects could be perceived asleep or awake but it is unknown and doubtful (Descartes 10). For example, the opposite of a lucid dream indicates the dreamer is not aware of dreaming and has no control over what is felt or done in the dream. Therefore, how can the dreamer recognize what is reality or simply a dream? In addition, he also explores the senses and depicts that the sensations can inflict illusions of doubt (Descartes 10). Descartes struggled to live life accordingly when everything he once believed was faulty, even his past memory of truths are doubtful. He understood that his senses and body were just fictions of his mind and they did not exist (Descartes 27). The only certitude he had was that there was no certainty; therefore, he doubted even his own existence. With this, he still continued to search for indubitable truths and disregarded anything that contained the slightest doubt (Descartes 16). At this point, Descartes opened the idea that thinking is an attribute of the soul. He concluded that because he can doubt everything around him and even his own body, he could only believe that by thinking he can be certain of his own existence. Therefore, as long as he is thinking he exists (Descartes 16). In detail, a person creates the idea of thought. Through thinking there is a fundamental connection of existing if one stops thinking, one does not exist. However, thinking and existing are two separate ideas but are both connected by this necessity. Therefore, the soul exists because it is thinking; hence Descartes determined that he is nothing but a thinking thing. He stated that a thinking thing has the capability to doubt, understand, perceive, imagine etc. (Descartes 16). With that, Descartes claimed that although our senses deceive us and whether we are asleep or awake we perceive external objects. For instance, when we hear a noise, feel heat, or see light we perceive by using our mind. By simply perceiving these presentations we are thinking, thus, existing (Descartes 30). For example, you go into the kitchen and grab an apple, you perceive the apple and by perceiving it you are thinking, thus you exist. This soon became a renowned argument for human existence amongst the philosophical community is recognized...