Meditation on First Philosophy

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 300
  • Published : December 5, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
First Essay Assignment Question: Meditation on First Philosophy

It can be seen that Descartes Meditations on first philosophy raised a lot of questions regarding the existence and nature of the self, the existence of God, the nature of truth and the possibility of error, and finally also the essence and existence of bodies along other things. Descartes did all this through the medium of his six meditations. Descartes from his very first Meditation, that of concerning things that can be called in to doubt, gives reasons on why we should doubt all things, material or non-material, to be not true. He further goes on to state that, we must continue to doubt these things as being not true as long as we have no other reason to believe in their existence, except for the scientific basis on which those things may have been founded or are rather based upon. Descartes starts off by saying that a person's basic senses, meaning that his/her sense of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight will each at least prove to be deceptive to them once in their lifetime. From this Descartes concurs that you can't trust your senses since if they have deceived you once, what are the chances that they won't deceive you again. Even though Descartes states that one shouldn't trust his senses all the time, how ever when it comes to deriving the existence of small and distinct things, one also according to Descartes can not deny the existence of those very senses. Descartes during his first meditation also comes to the conclusion that the eyes, head and hands and the whole body of a human being in general are not imaginary things. This is due to the fact that according to Descartes, things seen during dreams "like painted images could not have only been produced in the likeness of true things" (Descartes, 28). Descartes even takes this a step further by stating that a painter's artistic representation is merely a product that is composed of the painter's already existing thoughts & his knowledge of certain things in general. Hence Descartes comes to the conclusion that subjects and topics like "arithmetic, geometry and drawing which treat of nothing but the simplest and the most general thing which are indifferent as to whether these things do or do not in fact exist, contain something certain and indubitable", (Descartes, 29), such as the colours in the painters drawing in the example presented above. Finally, since Descartes by the end of his first meditation, also thinks that an evil genius is deceiving him in his every day to day life. Therefore, it is because of this very act of doubting on Descartes part that he is truly able to confirm his own existence. Descartes during his second meditation not only acknowledges the existence of a human body in space, since he distinctly states that sensing does not take place without a body. In addition to this, Descartes also states that anything that can basically be seperated from him doesn't exist. This claim by Descartes not only reaffirms Descartes about his very own existence as he basically looks upon himself as a being, possessing a mind that can never be taken away from him. Descartes also goes on to say that the Mind is a thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses and that also imagines and senses" since all of these mentioned traits are derived from nothing else but his mere thoughts. Descartes also makes use of the wax example to demonstrate that it is indeed the judgement of his mind that eventually has lead him to believe that the melted wax is still wax, even though the wax did not any longer posses the empirical characteristics, that it was known to have been related to before it was melted. It can be seen that Descartes on the basis of this example comes to the conclusion that "bodies are not, properly speaking, perceived by the senses or by the faculty of imagination but by the intellect alone, and that they are not perceived through their being touched or seen, but...
tracking img