Topics: Epistemology, Mind, René Descartes Pages: 5 (2516 words) Published: October 4, 2014


Regarding many things man is certain that he possesses knowledge. He is equally certain that there are far more things of which he is totally ignorant. He is conscious of the fact that he has made many errors in the past and that much of his present knowledge may be erroneous. He realizes also that he has no exhaustive and fully adequate knowledge of things, not even of himself. The consciousness of all this, is reflected in his mental attitude toward the things he knows or thinks he knows. This is one of the attitudes of a man to doubt. Doubt is that state of the mind in which a suspended judgment ensues, due to the mind's inability to decide whether the judgment is true or false. If the mind can discover no reasons, or practically no reasons, which enable it to come to a decision regarding the truth or error of its judgment, then the doubt is negative. If it has discovered reasons, but if they are of practically equal weight for and against the truth of the judgment, thereby making a decisive judgment impossible, then the doubt is positive. In both cases the result is the same: the fear of error cannot be overcome, and the judgment remains suspended. Like when we sometimes guess that it will it rain due to the appearance of the weather that indicates rain; but, the high winds may drive the clouds away. It might rain, but we fear it will not, and so you suspend your judgment. Another case, is like will the Gillas Pilipinas win in the next year basketball game? The situation is such that the mind can come to no real decision: it doubts. And so there are innumerable instances where man cannot overcome his doubts.

For Rene Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician, as the father of modern philosophy, and credited for the rise of modern era. Descartes observes, that discipline in which everything has been subjected to dispute. Thus, there is a need to ground knowledge on that which is indubitable. Aware of this enormous task, Descartes devised a simple method, which consist of rules and principles intended to put discipline and direction to the activities of human mind. This is the methodic doubt. The methodic doubt as a matter of principle acts as the basis for all that can be considered as true and certain.

Hypothetically, the idea is to doubt everything in order to have a firm foundation for all our claims. Thus, the search for the basis of knowledge is one that is purely accomplished by exercising the methodic doubt, one that involves withholding assent from all previous opinions which fail to be certain and indubitable. For instance, the physical world is subjected to doubt, not in order to reject it, but in order to find the ground in which the truth can be founded. He used the methodic doubt in order to find an absolute and certain starting point for building up our knowledge.

Rene Descartes is responsible for the predominance of the problem of human knowledge in modern philosophy. Many of the systems of philosophy and theories of knowledge which have risen in the last three centuries can trace their lineage directly to the influence of the questions. Descartes raised and the method he employed in answering them. He promulgated the principle of 'science without presuppositions' and thereby introduced a new epoch in science and philosophy. It will, therefore, not be amiss to analyze fundamental ideas and evaluate his method.

As his starting point, Descartes begins with the contention that we rely entirely too much on traditional doctrines and spontaneous convictions, so that our supposed knowledge of truth rests mostly on unproved presuppositions. This make it difficult for us to distinguish between truth and error, since we do not know what is true knowledge and what...
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