Descartes, Hume and Skepticism

Topics: Skepticism, Mind, Epistemology Pages: 2 (746 words) Published: May 3, 2006
Descartes, Hume and Skepticism
Descartes is responsible for the skepticism that has been labeled Cartesian doubt. Hume critiques this skepticism in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. After his discussion of Cartesian doubt, he offers a different type of skepticism that he considers as being more effective philosophically. Is Hume right in his characterization of Cartesian doubt and is the skepticism he offers better?

Descartes introduced the idea of universal doubt to philosophy. If there is even a slight case for doubting something, then it should be doubted. His skepticism was used to find a basis for knowledge and his aim was to establish truths. He relayed this universal doubt to all human understanding. Not only does it pertain to understanding, but also to ideas, the senses and other faculties. Descartes established in his first meditation reasons for doubting. To Descartes, our experiences of the world are in direct association with our senses. He wrote that the senses can be and often are deceiving. This deceit gives us sufficient reason to doubt what we perceive. This doubt of our perceptions allows us to doubt the world. We may see something from afar that appears to be purple but when approached it is actually striped of red and blue. We were deceived by our senses. He also states that we could be dreaming and what we perceive is not true. Everyone has had dreams that are lucid and seem to be reality. Often, after you awake the dream still resides in your memory as actually occurring. These dreams obviously are not reality of the world but a fabrication of the mind. If we are not dreaming and our senses are not deceiving us then we may be the victims of an evil deceiver. There could be a supernatural being whose intent is to deceive us. We may perceive a world that does not exist but is the creation of this evil deceiver. This evil deceiver could also supply us with wrong laws of mathematics and logic. With these reasons for doubting it...
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