Descartes’ Cogito

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Descartes’ Cogito It is the purpose of this essay to examine both Descartes’ Cogito argument and his skepticism towards small and universal elements, as well as the implications these arguments have on each other. First, I will summarize and explain the skepticism Descartes’ brings to bear on small and universal elements in his first meditation. Second, I will summarize and explain the Cogito argument, Descartes’ famous “I think, therefore I am” (it should be noted that this famous implication is not actually something ever said or written by Descartes, but instead, an implication taken from his argument for his own existence). Third, I will critique the line of reasoning underlying these arguments. Descartes attacks small and universal elements with the problem posed by the possibility of God being an omnipotent deceiver, but he seems to think his Cogito argument is immune from this type of criticism. Fourth, I will show how the Cogito is actually harder to establish than the existence of small and universal elements. And, fifth, I will establish small and universal elements as an Archimedean point (i.e. – a foundational claim). In Descartes’ first meditation, paragraphs 9-12, he arrives at the final and most devastating stage of questioning his beliefs. In his first two stages, he questions both small and distant objects and medium sized objects, and concludes that neither can be held as true with any certainty. He throws out the first because of the possibility that the small and distant object is a mirage, and throws out the second because of the possibility that we are actually dreaming while perceiving medium sized objects. In his third and final stage of doubt, Descartes’ examines sma... ... middle of paper ... ...things. The lack of an omnipotent deceiver and the reality of the existence of small and universal elements lead to an even broader foundational claim; there is a world where the small and universal elements exist. Either it is the world around us at his very moment, or, if this is a dream, it is the world of the dreamer whose small and universal elements make up this dream world. In concluding, a few things must be noted. One, Descartes’ omnipotent deceiver does not and cannot exist in the manner Descartes relates. Two, even if the deceiver did exist, the Cogito would not be immune from the pall of doubt the deceiver’s existence would cause to fall on reality. Three, even without the deceiver, the Cogito is falsifiable because of the “Someone Else’s Dream” argument. Four, there is a world where small and universal elements we know of exist.
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