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Descartes First Meditation Essay

  • Submitted by: Yardley123
  • on November 17, 2013
  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Length: 1,468 words

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Below is an essay on "Descartes First Meditation" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

In Rene Descartes’, First Meditation, he analyzes the system of beliefs in anticipation that he would come to find truth. In his rationalist argument on universal doubt, he explains his theory that for us to know the truth we must first be sure that the belief is unquestionable and to do so, we first need to put all of our beliefs into question. We will also be concerned with Putnam’s argument that if you were a Brain in a Vat you would not be able to self refer. I will argue against the application of such high Universal Doubt but nevertheless, I will accept that some doubt is necessary in order to find the truth in your beliefs. Although, Descartes and Putnam are playing devils advocate I will fully argue for Putnam’s discretization of the Brain in the Vat theory.
In the First Meditation, Descartes acknowledges that most beliefs he has come to accept throughout his life have come from those resulting from his senses. He then further argues that our sensory experiences can lead us astray and that to guarantee our beliefs concerning reality we must first make sure that our beliefs are formed on a concrete foundation of pure truth. To determine whether or not anything we know is true, Descartes suggests that we must put everything we know into question. This idea of doubting anything with even the slightest potential question is termed hypothetical doubt. To search for the truth in our beliefs he separates all beliefs into two categories: those that are found through our sensory experiences and those that are found through our reasoning abilities. Next, Descartes employs the idea of foundationalism. This is the idea that to find the truth you must break down all beliefs to the foundation. Once you have found the foundation of a belief you can use concrete evidence to either prove or disprove it. This idea of foundationalism allows you to rebuild from the ground up and accepting only those arguments, which are absolutely certain.
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