Haven't found the Essay You Want?
GET YOUR CUSTOM ESSAY SAMPLE
For Only $12.90/page

Critical thinking Essay

RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650), A FRENCH PHILOSOPHER AND MATHEMATICIAN, IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS MEDITATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY. THIS FORM OF PHILOSOPHY IS A BODY OF WORK IN WHICH HE ATTEMPTS TO WIPE AWAY ALL HIS PRESUMPTIONS, REBUILDING HIS KNOWLEDGE FROM THE GROUND UP, AND ACCEPTING AS TRUE ONLY THOSE CLAIMS WHICH ARE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. IT WAS ESSENTIAL THAT THE FOUNDATIONS TO HIS BELIEFS WERE SOLID; IF ANY ONE OF THEM WERE AT ALL IN DOUBT, HE WOULD LOSE CREDIBILITY FOR HIS ENTIRE STRUCTURE OF KNOWLEDGE. THUS, DESCARTES CREATED A METHOD IN WHICH HE WOULD ELIMINATE THOSE BELIEFS WHICH HE COULD NOT BE ENTIRELY CERTAIN OF.

HE CALLED THIS METHOD – THE METHOD OF DOUBT. BY USING THE METHOD OF DOUBT, DESCARTES QUESTIONED EVERYTHING THAT HAD ANY POSSIBILITY OF UNCERTAINTY, UNTIL HE WAS ABLE TO PROVE THAT IT WAS CERTAIN OR UNTIL HE BECAME CERTAIN THAT THERE WAS NO CERTAINTY (DESCARTES 1641, 1-4). HE COMPARED IT TO “THAT OF A MAN WHO TAKES ALL THE APPLES OUT OF A BARREL ONE BY ONE, INSPECTS THEM, AND THEN PUTS THE SOUND ONES BACK” (WILLIAMS 1978, 59).

DESCARTES BELIEVED THAT ALL KNOWLEDGE IS RELATED AND THEREFORE DECIDED HE WOULD REBUILD THE EDIFICE OF KNOWLEDGE BASED UPON THE CORE TRUTHS THAT REMAIN AFTER THE USAGE OF THE METHOD OF DOUBT (DESCARTES 1641, 1). IN-ORDER FOR DESCARTES TO BE ABLE TO ELIMINATE THOSE BELIEFS WHICH HE COULD NOT BE ENTIRELY CERTAIN OF, HE WOULD HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH BY DISCARDING ALL THAT HE HAD PREVIOUSLY KNOWN. HE STARTED BY QUESTIONING EXISTENCE -DO I EXIST?

DOES GOD EXIST? HE PROVED HIS EXISTENCE BY STATING THAT IN ORDER TO HAVE THESE DOUBTS, HE MUST EXIST. THE FACT THAT HE IS ABLE TO CONTEMPLATE HIS OWN EXISTENCE IS PROOF THAT HE EXISTS. THIS IS WHERE HE BRINGS IN THE PHRASE, “I THINK, THEREFORE I AM”. THIS IS THE LOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR KNOWING WE EXIST (DESCARTES 1641, 4-6). HE PROVES THAT Professor Keton THERE IS A GOD BY USING THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT- “SOMETHING LESSER CANNOT CAUSE SOMETHING GREATER. ”

GREATER/LESSER IS REFERRING TO QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCES NOT QUANTITATIVE. FOR EXAMPLE, A MONKEY IS ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL AND IS TO BE HELD TO DIFFERENT STANDARDS THAN A PERSON. DESCARTES SAYS, “I HAVE AN IDEA OF A PERFECT BEING- IT’S AN INFINITE BEING WHO’S OMNIPRESENT, OMNIPOTENT, ALL GOOD… GOD. ” THEN HE THINKS, “SINCE I AM FINITE I CANNOT BE THE SOURCE OF THE IDEA OF AN INFINITE BEING. ” HE REALIZES THAT FINITE VS. INFINITE IS A QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND GOD.

THROUGH POINTS ONE AND TWO, HE COMES TO THE REALIZATION THAT AN INFINITE BEING HAD TO HAVE COME FROM A DIFFERENT SOURCE, AND THE ONLY INFINITE SOURCE IS A PERFECT BEING. HE THEN CONCLUDED THAT GOD MUST HAVE PUT THIS IDEA IN HIS HEAD, THEREFORE GOD MUST EXIST (DESCARTES 1641, 14-16).

DESCARTES KNEW IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT AND IMPRACTICAL TO EXAMINE ALL OF ONE’S BELIEFS ONE BY ONE, SO HE GROUPED BELIEFS TOGETHER WHICH ALLOWED HIM TO QUESTION AND INQUIRE WHOLE CLASSES OF BELIEFS AND PROVE OR DISPROVE THEM BASED ON THEIR DERIVATION OF THE SAME SOURCE, SUCH AS OUR SENSES, IMAGINATION, OR ABSTRACT KNOWLEDGE (REASON). DESCARTES ARGUES THAT OUR SENSES CANNOT BE TRUSTED BECAUSE SOMETIMES WE DON’T PERCEIVE THINGS CORRECTLY;

IT CAN BE DUE TO MIRAGES, HALLUCINATIONS, OR DREAMS (DESCARTES 1641, 1-2). MANY TIMES WE BELIEVE THINGS HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED WHEN IN REALITY IT WAS JUST A MIND TRICK. THIS BRINGS US TO WHY WE CAN’T TRUST OUR IMAGINATION. OUR IMAGINATION COMES FROM OUR EXPERIENCES IN THE REAL WORLD WHICH STEMS FROM OUR SENSES, WHICH WE HAVE JUST DISCOVERED WE CANNOT TRUST. DESCARTES BELIEVED THAT A LACK OF COMPLETE CERTAINTY IS A GOOD REASON TO DOUBT.

THIS WAS THE PRINCIPLE OF THE METHOD OF DOUBT, ALSO KNOWN AS ‘RADICAL SKEPTICISM’ (DESCARTES 1641, 1-2). I PERSONALLY THINK THIS METHOD IS A PLEASING APPROACH TO VALIDATING SUPPOSEDLY KNOWN FACTS THAT MAY NOT BE FACTUAL AT ALL. MANY THINGS WE BELIEVE AS FACTS ARE ACTUALLY THEORIES OR STATEMENTS HANDED DOWN TO US FROM PREVIOUS GENERATIONS WITH NO EVIDENCE AS TO WHY THEY ARE Professor Keton FACTS. ANYTHING THAT HAS EVEN THE SMALLEST PERCENTAGE OF DOUBT SHOULD BE QUESTIONED AND INQUIRED UPON UNTIL IT IS ABLE TO BE PROVEN AS FACT. THIS CONCEPT IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE CONCEPT OF ‘INNOCENT

UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY’. JUST LIKE A PERSON HAS THE STATUS OF ‘INNOCENT’ UNTIL THERE IS SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE TO PROVE HIM GUILTY, SO TOO BY ANYTHING, IF ONE WOULD WANT TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO OF SOMETHING, ONE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO BRING SUITABLE SUPPORT TO PROVE HIS THEORY. WHENEVER ONE WANTS SOMEONE TO PROVE TO THEM OTHERWISE, ONE WILL ALWAYS ASK FOR VALID REASONING AND EVIDENCE. THE REASON FOR THIS IS BECAUSE THE HUMAN MIND WAS CREATED IN WHICH WE LIKE TO QUESTION AND UNDERSTAND THE DEPTHS OF THINGS. IF WE HAVE ANY SORT OF DOUBTS IN OUR MINDS.

THAT SOMETHING IS TRUE OR WHY SOMETHING IS TRUE, WE LIKE TO ASK IN ORDER TO BRING OUR CURIOSITY TO REST. FOLLOWING THIS OBSERVATION, IF ONE DOESN’T HAVE A REASON TO DOUBT SOMETHING, ONE AUTOMATICALLY FEELS SATISFIED WITH THE OUTCOME BECAUSE THEY KNOW IT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, AND CANNOT BE PROVEN OTHERWISE.

IN CONCLUSION, I COMMEND DESCARTES’ REASONING AND THE FACT THAT HE WANTED TO ESTABLISH AN UNBIASED FOUNDATION IN ORDER TO INSURE THE CERTAINTY OF THINGS. ALTHOUGH MANY OF THE THINGS DESCARTES HAD QUESTIONED WERE THINGS HE ALREADY KNEW TO BE TRUE, HE FOLLOWED HIS METHODOLOGY.

IN ORDER TO BRING REASONING AND CERTAINTY TO HIS BELIEFS. DESCARTES’S FOUNDATIONAL PHILOSOPHY RESTS CENTRALLY ON THE METHOD OF DOUBT, WHICH REQUIRES A FIRST-PERSON OBSERVATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE THINKING INDIVIDUAL AND THE SURROUNDING WORLD HE OR SHE PERCEIVES. I BELIEVE THIS IS A GREAT APPROACH TO PHILOSOPHY, AND IT HAS ALSO HAD GREAT INFLUENCE UPON LATER PHILOSOPHERS, INCLUDING KANT AND HUSSERL (WILLIAMS 1978, 124).

Professor Keton REFERENCES DESCARTES, RENE. 1641. MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY. TRANSLATED BY JONATHAN BENNETT. 2007. WILLIAMS, BERNARD. (1978) DESCARTES: THE PROJECT OF PURE ENQUIRY. NEW YORK: PENGUIN.


Essay Topics:


Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email. Please, specify your valid email address

We can't stand spam as much as you do No, thanks. I prefer suffering on my own