John Green (SIU85*******)
Philosophy 305A-001, Paper #1
September 29, 2014
In his meditations, Descartes often references a “deceiver” that possess both supreme power and malicious intent. This deceiver uses its powers to deceive Descartes with a false reality, forcing him to question everything and take no sensory information as accurate unless said information can be logically proven correct. Of course, the malicious deceiver is not real, and Descartes does not actually believe it is. In his meditations, Descartes is seeking to develop a new philosophy from scratch that does not contain a single piece of falsifiable information. He wants to create an intellectual foundation that is absolute so that anything built upon it can cannot be questioned because of its foundations. In this sense, the malicious deceiver is a rhetorical tool used to introduce and illustrate the skepticism he is using in building his arguments. Since an all-powerful, malicious deceiver cannot be proven to not exist, the only information that he considers to be completely reliable is that which can be proven when working under the assumption that it does exist. Working under his new paradigm where there is an all-powerful force seeking to trick him in every way, the first thing he seeks to prove is that he definitely exists. To this end, he says “Then without doubt I exist also if he deceives me, and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. So that after having reflected well and carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it” (Meditations, p. 9). These lines can be boiled down to the much more memorable declaration that “I think, therefore I am.” What Descartes is saying here is that, he must consider the possibility that there is nothing aside from the malicious...
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