Descartes then states that he wishes to extend his knowledge through knowledge in his own self. He judges things that he once knew as fact to possibly now be doubtful and uncertain and that all his prior knowledge could have just been a work from a deceitful God. If then he wishes to learn from within himself and a deceitful God does in fact exist how can he affirm any knowledge within himself or even any knowledge he has affirmed through his meditations? If ideas that he once had now seemed uncertain then does that not mean all he knows can just be a work of a deceitful God, if of course a God does exist.
An Examination of the Second Meditation of Descartes
Baird and Kaufmann, the editors of our text, explain in their outline of Descartes' epistemology that the method by which the thinker carried out his philosophical work involved first discovering and being sure of a certainty, and then, from that certainty, reasoning what else it meant one could be sure of. He would admit nothing without being absolutely satisfied on his own (i.e., without being told so by others) that it was incontrovertible truth. This system was unique, according to the editors, in part because Descartes was not afraid to face doubt. Despite the fact that it was precisely doubt of which he was endeavoring to rid himself, he nonetheless allowed it the full reign it deserved and demanded over his intellectual labors. " Although uncertainty and doubt were the enemies," say Baird and Kaufmann (p.16), "Descartes hit upon the idea of using doubt as a tool or as a weapon. . . .
Epistemology can be defined as the theory of the nature and knowledge in reference to its value. This means the study of facts on knowledge. Epistemologists, try to evaluate the commonsense idea that we have knowledge and that we are rationally justified in the beliefs we have. Descartes way of thinking is through Method of Doubt. Descartes attempted to use the fundamentals of knowledge and the method of doubt he used during his time of mediation became an essential part of epistemology.
René Descartes was a skeptic, and thus he believed that in order for something to be considered a true piece of knowledge, that “knowledge must have a certain stability,” (Cottingham 21). In his work, Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes concludes that in order to achieve this stability, he must start at the foundations for all of his opinions and find the basis of doubt in each of them. David Hume, however, holds a different position on skepticism in his work An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, for he criticizes Descartes’ claim because “‘it is impossible,’” (qtd. in Cottingham 35). Both philosophers show distinct reasoning in what skepticism is and how it is useful in finding stability.
In his work, Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes narrates the search for certainty in order to recreate all knowledge. He begins with “radical doubt.” He asks a simple question “Is there any one thing of which we can be absolutely certain?” that provides the main question of his analysis. Proceeding forward, he states that the ground of his foundation is the self – evident knowledge of the “thinking thing,” which he himself is. Moving up the tower of certainty, he focuses on those ideas that can be supported by his original foundation. In such a way, Descartes’s goal is to establish all of human knowledge of firm foundations. Thus, Descartes gains this knowledge from the natural light by using it to reference his main claims, specifically
Rather than begin by inspecting each item of belief, Descartes goes to the root of the matter by describing the foundations of our ordinary beliefs. These ordinary beliefs rest upon the senses. Usually when people describe something as known they are basing that claim on something that had come from the senses. This is where Descartes begins his progressive series of doubts.
Descartes presents three skeptical arguments in his meditations which shows he has reason to doubt all of his sensory beliefs. Descartes ultimately aims to free himself from all bad beliefs. His quest for certainty is driven from his belief that our belief system is built on a foundation of basic beliefs, that are not justified, in turn, causing him to believe that all his other beliefs are uncertain, as well. His method for achieving a system immune from errors is described in three steps from Meditation One. Descartes three skeptical arguments pose a few objections to the plausibility to each step.
Descartes major concern is what we can know to be actually real. This concern starts from a dream he has, in his dream he thinks he is actually awake, so when Descartes does wake up he begins to question reality. On page 75 and 76 he says “ But I had the persuasion that there was absolutely nothing in the world, that there was no sky and no earth, neither minds nor bodies; I was not, therefore, at the same time, persuaded that I did not exists? To solve this he tosses out all emotions and reasons to try to figure out what actually exists. He starts himself on this hyperbolic doubt, increasing levels of doubt, meaning he continues to doubt himself until what he is left with is Cogito Ergo Sum. . Cogito Ergo Sum is being aware of disembodied thinking. He uses this as proof of his existence, because having thought, whether wrong or right, is proof that one does exist.
Rene Descartes’ greatest work, Meditations on First Philosophy, attempts to build the base of knowledge through a skeptical point of view. In the First Meditation, Descartes argues that his knowledge has been built on reason and his senses, yet how does he know that those concepts are not deceiving him? He begins to doubt that his body exists, and compares himself to an insane person. What if he is delusional about his social ranking, or confused about the color of his clothes, or even unaware of the material that his head is made of? This is all because the senses are deceiving, even in our dreams we experience realistic visions and feelings. Finally, Descartes comes to the conclusion that everything must be doubted, and begins to build his
In Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous and Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, philosophers George Berkeley and René Descartes use reasoning to prove the existence of God in order to debunk the arguments skeptics or atheists pose. While Berkeley and Descartes utilize on several of the same elements to build their argument, the method in which they use to draw the conclusion of God’s existence are completely different. Descartes argues that because one has the idea of a perfect, infinite being, that being, which is God therefore exists. In Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, Berkeley opposes the methodology of Descartes and asserts that God’s existence is not dependent on thought, but on the senses and