The Effect of Rene Descartes and David Hume on the Philosophical World

1078 Words5 Pages
Rene Descartes and David Hume both have had a profound effect on the philosophical world. Both these philosophers are associated explicitly with two separate schools of philosophy which are Rationalism and Empiricism. It is this division between Rationalism and Empiricism that allows for Descartes and Hume to present differing accounts of the mind and mentality.
Descartes is widely recognized as the father of modern philosophy, he is a rationalist, who considers knowledge of the metaphysical as existing separate from physical reality believing that truth cannot be acquired through the senses but through the intellect in the form of deductive reasoning. Rationalism does not involve the overcoming of religious thought. Descartes began with the basic epistemological premise of "the prior certainty of consciousness," which is the belief that the existence of an external world is not self-evident but needed to be proved by deduction from the contents of one's consciousness.
Descartes asserted that what is true knowledge is literally inborn with us. He had an attitude of doubt toward certain beliefs and that knowledge is limited. This attitude and methodology of thinking led him to doubt the existence of God and whether our own human existence was real or not. Descartes used the deductive method where he labeled all that was doubtful as false until nothing remained but that which was not doubtful as the truth. Descartes concluded that if one doubts, the doubting itself proves that one is thinking and therefore one exists.
By using the process of reason in geometry, Descartes found that the three angles of a triangle makes two right angles but that this same process of reasoning could not prove its presence. With this in mind, he went ...

... middle of paper ...

...agination to picture a pig fly.
Descartes on the other hand assumes that the "I think therefore I am" argument is the correct way to go about things. He assumes our thoughts are correct thoughts only when they appear to be correct. How do we know that we exist, because we think? How do we know for sure those two ideas correlate? He ignored the certainty of existence, proven by the contents of his mind, and instead opted for the belief that only his mind existed until he could prove otherwise. “How can I know I exist?”, or “How do I prove I exist?”
Maybe we should refer to an old classic: Star Trek the Next Generation. When the android, Lieutenant Data, asks if he is human, Descartes’ answer would be “yes” solely because he thinks. Yet Hume would probably disagree because he has no feelings therefore he cannot experience life. So the question remains; is Data human?

More about The Effect of Rene Descartes and David Hume on the Philosophical World

Open Document