Meditations on First Philosophy by Renee Descartes: Analysis

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"Several years have now passed since I first realized how numerous were the false opinions that in my youth I had taken to be true, and thus how doubtful were all those I had subsequently built upon them." (pp.1) The First Meditation opens with Renee Descartes reflecting on all the things that he has been mistaken about, and all his beliefs that were built on those false ones. As a result, he somehow feels the need to reexamine everything he has believed in the past, and has set aside some time in front of the fireplace to do it. Renee Descartes claims him self to be "The Meditator" and decides that in order to determine truth from falsity he should declare something false if there is any reason at all for doubt. "For this reason it will suffice for the rejection of all these opinions, if I find in each of them some reason for doubt." So with this in mind, Descartes attempts to probe everything skeptically. "Nor therefore need I survey each opinion individually, a task that would be endless. Rather, because undermining the foundations will cause whatever has been built upon them to crumble of its own accord, I will attack straightaway these principles which supported everything I once believed." He realizes that everything he has come to believe has been a result of his senses telling him that something exists. "Surely whatever I had admitted until now as most true I received either from the senses or through the senses. However, I have noticed that the senses are sometimes deceptive." But the senses, like the senses of insane people, can deceive you, as can dreams. There are "no definitive signs by which to distinguish being awake from being asleep". Descartes then decides to assume that he is sleeping. "Let us assume then, for the sake of argument that we are dreaming and that such particulars as these are not true: that we are opening our eyes, moving our head, and extending our hands. Perhaps we do not have such hands or any body at all." He reasons...
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