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Rene Descartes’s Methodological Doubt

Methodic skepticism is a means of looking for clarity through doubting everything. Firstly, all arguments are categorized by knowledge type and source (e.g., mathematical, empirical, and traditional,). A class example is then explored. René Descartes, a rationalist, employed methodic uncertainty to prove cogito, ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”). He identified disputed knowledge in tradition, empirical knowledge due to illusions, hallucinations, and dreams, and mathematical knowledge due to human calculation errors (Descartes, 109). Descartes’ major goal in employing the methodology was to establish a ground for truth or real knowledge. Descartes sought unquestionable assurance or truth. So, this study will look closely at Descartes’ first, second, and third meditations.

Descartes establishes the fact that “I am” in Mediation One by stating, “I am.” As a result, in the second meditation, he tackles the question of “who I am.” He is aware of his own existence, but what exactly is this thing that he is aware of? “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes asserts, claiming to have uncovered a belief that is for certain and indubitable (Garns, 87). There is maybe no more famous philosophical expression than cogito ergo sum, often referred to as the “Cogito”. In his Meditations, Descartes acknowledges that he has held many incorrect views and sets out to correct them, hoping to assure that he holds only genuine beliefs and that scientific investigation gives only truthful results. A false or perhaps false claim is doubted by him. He realizes that his senses may be fooling him now, as they have before, and that he may be reasoning incorrectly, as he has previously. As a result, he doubts all of his senses and reasoning beliefs as being incorrect. Descartes then analyzes the much more extreme cause for doubt: a wicked demon (also translated as ‘genius,’ ‘genie,’ or ‘spirit’) may exist who can control all of his ideas and deceive him into accepting anything. So, he admits that all his views about the natural reality may be demon-induced illusions that mean nothing, and hence are untrue. Descartes is often thought of as contemplating doubt, the concept that humans clearly have no understanding or factual knowledge. As we’ll see, Descartes claims the Cogito permits him to overcome skepticism and demonstrate certainty.

Descartes argues in his Meditations and associated literature as from early 1640s that the self will either be a cognition or a person being, and that its attributes vary accordingly. For instance, the self is basic as a thought, yet the self is complex as a human. Descartes believes that the only way to get precise and very well conclusions is to query everything you’ve been taught to accept without inquiry (Pecere, np). More importantly, that is the only way to develop convictions that seem to be truly own. “To be a true seeker of truth, you must doubt everything at least once in your life,” he says. Doubting everything you’ve been taught takes a lot of guts, because questioning your cultural norms, religious beliefs and even self-beliefs may be highly disruptive. It may require stirring up your brain, questioning important people’s ideas, or even testing your own self-image. But Descartes’ claim has a persuasive logic: For until you are willing to question everything you are asked to take “on faith,” you will never be able to build a strong foundation for your worldview and individual understanding of life. The experience essential to improve academic ability and personal fortitude required to reach your best potential for development. Descartes felt this ethereal mind held the seat of awareness due to its qualities that defy all natural rules. That is where individuals find their wisdom, motivation, passion and feelings. In summary, our identity is derived from our intellect. “I think, therefore I am!” said Descartes.

In human dualism, the mind is divided from the body. That is, the mind is distinct from the body’s experimentally studied physical qualities. Descartes defined dualism. Descartes created a notion of mind as an immaterial, peaceful co – existence material that engages in diverse activities or states such as sensation (feeling), desiring, envisioning, and logical reasoning (Baker, et al. np). Except for the body, that Descartes thought is causally impacted by the mind and causes certain mental experiences, matter obeys the rules of physics in a mechanistic fashion (Cassam, np). For example, raising the arm by will causes it to raise, yet hitting the finger with a hammer induces the mind to hurt. A Cartesian mind is an immaterial object that has no thoughts or consciousness. Immaterial objects can only be conscious and think. Mind-body dualism is the philosophical belief that intellect and body (or matter) are essentially different sorts of things or natures. It means that mind and body are not just different in meaning but also different kinds of beings. We are immaterial minds so we are sentient and think.

Furthermore, this section of Descartes’ dualism philosophy, called as interactionism, presents one of its most difficult issues that Descartes and his successors had to grapple with: the issue of how this causal relationship is even conceivable in the first place. Descartes demonstrates that God exists and that the only cause of God’s existence is our distinct and clear experience. Descartes demonstrated in previous meditations that he is a thinking object and that he lives, and now he is still in doubt and is confronted with questions such as where his existence originated through, where his conceptions or ideas came from, and why they arise in his mind, among other things. Hence, he therefore draws the conclusion that God exists in human thoughts and that people can clearly perceive him and the way he is.

Finally, Descartes’ philosophy is characterized by his argument that the mind and the body are fundamentally distinct—a position that has come to be known as “mind-body dualism”—as one of its most profound and long-lasting legacies. According to him, the nature of the mind (which is a thinking, non-extended object) is fundamentally distinct from the nature of the body which is non-thinking thing, an extended, and as a result, it is conceivable for one to exist independently of the other.

Works Cited

Baker, Gordon, and Katherine Morris. Descartes’ dualism. Routledge, 2005.

Cassam, Quassim. The embodied self. na, 2011.

Descartes, René. “DESCARTES’S DISCOURSE ON METHOD.” Ratio et Fides: A Preliminary Introduction to Philosophy for Theology (2018): 109.

Garns, Rudy L. “Descartes and indubitability.” The Southern journal of philosophy 26.1 (1988): 83-100.

Pecere, Paolo. Soul, Mind and Brain from Descartes to Cognitive Science. Springer International Publishing, 2020.


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