DESCARTES’ COGITO ARGUMENT
Discourse, Part Four, pg. 19 – 20
1. Anything that is the slightest bit open to doubt, I reject as completely false.
2. My senses sometimes deceive me therefore they are open to doubt.
3. Everything that comes to me through the senses should be rejected as completely false. (1, 2)
4. My reasoning, like that of any other human being, is fallible and therefore open to doubt.
5. All conclusions that I arrive at by using my reasoning should be rejected as completely false. (1, 4)
6. I cannot clearly distinguish my dreaming and waking thoughts, therefore all my thoughts could be figments of my imagination in my dreams and are thus open to doubt.
7. All my thoughts should be rejected as completely false. (1, 6) At this point, the question arises whether there is any thought or belief remaining in Descartes’ mind to provide an absolutely certain foundation for his own thought and for philosophy. Descartes thinks there is: 8. Even if I consider all of my thoughts as dubitable and thus false (3, 5, 7), it remains that while thinking these false thoughts I am engaged in the process of thinking (“I think”).
9. Thus, I can conclude that I exist (“I am”) as something that thinks (8). LAB 8 ASSIGNMENT
Evaluate and reflect on Descartes’ cogito argument by completing the following 3 tasks. A. Evaluate each premise and conclusion on its own, specifying whether you agree with it or not and explaining why. B. Do you think this is a valid argument? Explain why or why not. C. Do you think this is a sound argument? Explain why or why not. Part A should be completed in class and approved by me before you leave. Parts B and C are to be completed at home on your computer and printed up in a double-spaced, 11- or 12-point font (no more than 1 double-spaced page for both parts B and C). You should hand in all parts to me next week in class (Wednesday 10 April).
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