Descartes Meditations of First Philosophy

Topics: Existence, Encyclopædia Britannica, Mind Pages: 4 (988 words) Published: May 7, 2014
Descartes’ Fourth Meditation: Account of Falsity and its Relation to Clear and Distinct Perception

This paper will address how René Descartes, the “Father of Modern Philosophy”, explains the nature of falsity in an attempt to prove his claim that “everything that we clearly and distinctly perceive is true” (Descartes 11). This paper sets out to prove that within his “Fourth Meditation” Descartes examines and diagnoses the source of error and falsity; it will also examine his successfulness of said purpose. The word “intellect” refers to the faculty of knowledge, which is within Descartes as well as all humans; “will” refers to the faculty of freedom of choice (page 38-39). Also, the word “privation” means the “lack of some knowledge that somehow should be within [us]” (page 38). The following paragraphs seek to explain Descartes’ account of falsity, how it defends the reliability of clear and distinct perception, as well as scrutinizes the meditation for possible flaws or incompleteness. In my analysis of Descartes’ “Fourth Meditation”, I will begin by introducing ideas from previous Meditations, from which Descartes builds his argument. Following, I will examine how Descartes comes about his certainty concerning his claim, stated above. Thirdly, I will assert why this certainty is so important in defending clear and distinct perceptions and will conclude with analyzing Descartes ultimate successfulness in his arguments and assertions.

Before we examine Descartes’ account of falsity, I will clarify what Descartes has declared earlier in his work. In the “Fourth Meditation”, titled Truth and Falsity, Descartes has proved the certain existence of only two things: the existence of himself, as a “thinking thing, which is not extended in length, breadth or height”, and the idea of God (37). To prove God’s existence, Descartes’ puts forth that: 1) our idea of a god is a perfect being, 2) it is more perfect to exist, than to not exist, 3)...


Bibliography: "Cartesian circle." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
Descartes, René, and John Cottingham. Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. Print.
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