Descartes - First Meditation

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PHIL 220 Fall 2011 Prof. Sara Magrin Sarah Gabr 900-08-9073 Final Essay

In the First Meditation, Descartes presents his philosophical project, and he claims that, in order to complete this project, he needs to put into questions the truth of all his beliefs. Descartes shows that we can doubt of the truth of all our beliefs by two main arguments, the Dream Argument and the Evil Genius argument.

In the Dream Argument, Descartes discusses the senses and how it can deceive. Descartes then mentions that when he is dreaming he can also sense real objects, or at least feels he can, causing him not be able to distinguish between being asleep and being awake. This is shown in the quote from the First Meditation, “I see so plainly that there are no definitive signs by which to distinguish being awake from being asleep. As a result, I am becoming quite dizzy, and this dizziness nearly convinces me that I am asleep” - (19, Mediation One).

Descartes also discusses the possibility of the universal dream, mentioning that his whole life could in fact be a dream with no actual world that you are awake. Descartes mentions that dream images are images that we already experience in our waking life, they are images that we already know of. The images don’t necessarily have to be something we have seen before because it can be parts of real things we already know that create another image we have not yet seen or experienced. The dream argument that Descartes represents interprets the message that the

senses are not always reliable, and we can easily be fooled by them, therefore, we should not rely on our senses to base all of our beliefs on.

Now moving on to Descartes second argument, the Evil Genius argument, it implies that everything we think we know is in fact not true and we cannot rely on our senses. In The First Meditation, Descartes presents that God is good, therefore he would not fool the beings he creates into believing false things. If someone were to...
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