Paper Topic #1
Descartes’ Skeptical Method
Descartes’ method offers definitive conclusions on certain topics, (his existence, the existence of God)but his reasoning is not without error. He uses three arguments to prove existence (His and God’s) that attempt to solidify his conclusions. For his method to function seamlessly, Descartes needs to be consistent in his use of the method, that is, he must continue to doubt and challenge thoughts that originate in his own mind. He is unable to achieve this ideal state of mind, however, and his proofs are shown to be faulty.
Descartes first establishes his position; the reasons and ideas that lead him to formulate the method. While observing architecture he notes how buildings designed by one architect generally show a more stable form than those designed by multiple architects. He extrapolates this further to systems of law, that those designed by one are likely to be superior to those designed by many. Descartes takes God as the –one-, the source of law. To substantiate this belief, he must first prove beyond doubt that God not only exists, but that he exists independent of Descartes’ mind.
Descartes desires an absolute proof of God’s existence, and to achieve this end, he applies his skeptical method. Descartes rejects any opinions or judgments he previously accepted, and attempts to start from nothing, to build his proof of God on certified reasoning. From his new position, every idea is challenged on all ends to assure its validity.
The first notion he presents as infallible is “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. Descartes cannot find any reasonable way to discredit this belief. He can accept the idea that the body does not exist, but the mind/soul must. To prove his idea he writes that “I could not for all that pretend that I did not exist. I saw on the contrary that from the mere fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed...
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