The question that has plagued philosophers for centuries has been “how do we come to know what we know?” The renowned philosopher Rene Descartes discusses this phenomenon, lending forth his own solutions to this perennial predicament. In the First Meditation, Descartes’ examines truth and fallacy through the methodical picking-apart of candidates of truth. Descartes’ idea of knowledge revolves around the philosophical staple, “I think therefore I am” and believing we should come upon truth and knowledge by questioning what is presently known, looking towards God as a viable solution, and ultimately coming to conclusions by relying on the mind and intellectual thought. In the following essay, I will defend Descartes’ beliefs and illustrate how his ideas are more rational and beneficial when compared to the ideas of other philosophers and religious nonbelievers.
Descartes’ search for knowledge begins with his call for the further examination of “composite things” such as “physics, astronomy, [and] medicine” while accepting the universal truths of “arithmetic [and] geometry” (Descartes, 15). Here he introduces his Method of Doubt, a systematic process of doubting deniable truths in order to uncover the true knowledge of things. The metaphor of a bulldozer can be used to understand this concept, substituting doubt as the bulldozer. If the bulldozer digs at the ground and finds the ground soft, the foundation of truth is weak. However, when the ground is solid and resists the bulldozer, the truth is proven. Simply, the Cartesian notion of universal doubt is to apply doubt to all candidates of knowledge and truth. Its purpose is to always search for deeper truths, inspiring intellectual beings to pursue their utmost potential. For ins...
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...s thorough, yet tricky. In order to follow his teachings, one must be painstakingly skeptical. Cartesian followers must question deniable truths in order to find true knowledge, doubt the imagination and only use the physical senses as a tool for the mind, and finally put faith in God to trust His innate ideas and truths of objective realities. However, his teachings promote an unfettered, pure knowledge. His objections to the counterarguments of Alexis de Tocqueville and atheism are indisputable, and although Descartes accepts Odegard and Wright’s accusations of inconsistency, he puts the issue to rest by encouraging intellect and skepticism of imagination. Descartes’ ideas are radical but his aims are constructive, and the incorporation of his teachings into daily life fosters intelligence, encourages reasonable caution, and employs a sound foundation of knowledge.
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