Descartes begins the excerpt by stating that because many things he learned in his childhood turned out to be false, he felt it was necessary “to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last,” (22). Such a tedious task would require an immense amount of time; although in comparing his beliefs to a building, Descartes intends to start at the beginning or at the “foundations” of his beliefs so that when he finds doubt in the support, every belief that is based on the foundation will be disregarded. He begins this doubt with the senses, for he believes that every opinion he has is derived from the senses, and that because the senses “deceive us,” they are not reliable sources of information (22). Like a “madman,” Descartes must therefore doubt the existence of everything he sees, and he further moves into questioning the difference between real life and dreams. According to Descartes, the images placed before us in ...
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...s the level of skepticism each philosopher follows. Descartes, who is excessively skeptical, attempts to find doubt in his beliefs, in reality as opposed to dreams, in God, and ultimately, in his own existence. Hume, a moderate skeptic, instead believes that Descartes’ skepticism is illogical because in doubting the senses and everything else in the world, one will never find satisfactory truths. In conclusion, the distinction between these two philosophers is evident concerning the claims they have made.
Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy. 1996. Western Philosophy: An
Anthology. Ed. John Cottingham. 2nd ed. N.p.: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2008. 21-25. Print.
Hume, David. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. 1996. Western Philosophy: An
Anthology. Ed. John Cottingham. 2nd ed. N.p.: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2008. 35-39. Print.
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