In Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy he proposes several arguments regarding human perception. He begins this exploration by examining the principles that his beliefs are founded on. By doing this, Descartes is choosing not to question each of his beliefs individually; he is choosing to examine the foundation of his perceptions. Descartes proceeds to question where he has attained his knowledge. The answer, he decides, is from his senses. Descartes also determines that there have been instances where his senses have been deceptive. It is from this idea that Descartes forms his deductions for Meditations I, II, and VI, and begins to question the concept of dualism.
In order to discuss Descartes conceptualization of Dualism, Descartes method must be explained. In Meditation I, he begins with the proposal of “universal doubt.” Consequently, Descartes discusses the elements of perception that we should question, in addition to evidence supporting these claims. He proposes the existence of dreams as reason to question perception. “As I consider matters more carefully,” Descartes states, “I see so plainly that there are no definitive signs by which to distinguish being awake from being asleep.” Descartes thus concludes that it is possible that he exists fully in a dream-state, proving possible that what he perceives is false.
However, it is also proposed that this idea may be false. “Nevertheless”, Descartes claims, “it surely must be admitted that the things seen during slumber are, as it were, like painted images, which could only have been produced in the likeness of true things, and that therefore at least these general things—eyes, head, hands, and the whole body—are not im...
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...h as a one-thousand sided shape is not easy to conjure an image for, although it is possible to consider it. Descartes thus recognizes that imagination is separate from thought, since we are able to consider certain objects without them having to be present. Furthermore, Descartes also identifies that imagination requires some extension of effort, while thought is automatic. He additionally recognizes that he is able to exist without an imagination and that imagination is not an essential element of the mind. Descartes states that “when the mind understands, it in some way turns towards itself and inspects one of the ideas which are within it; but when it imagines, it turns towards the body which conforms to an idea understood by the mind or perceived by the senses.” For this to occur, Descartes deduces that imagination probably needs the presence of the body.
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