Descartes Meditation One I am going to discuss Descartes Meditation One: Concerning those things that can be called into doubt. I will analyze and explain what Descartes was trying to do, and explain why (In my personal opinion) that this is nothing but a few wordy paragraphs that have no real value or point to them. In Descartes first meditation he discusses that he has come to the conclusion that many of his beliefs and opinions he had as a child are doubtful. Descartes decides that in order to find out the “truths” he must disprove his current “knowledge.” Descartes goes about this by trying to disprove the principles that support everything he believes in, using his Method of Doubt. Descartes Method of doubt is his way of doubting everything that has even the slightest possibility of not being fact.
Descartes does not necessarily doubt everything that he brings up. Descartes does believe that whatever can not be doubted for the slightest reason must be true. For that reason is why I think that his argument is weak, and I will explain later why I think that this is the case. Descartes spends meditation one trying to disprove his fundamental beliefs. First Descartes doubts that he can trust his senses because they are occasionally wrong.
An example of this are a longed haired man may look like a woman from far away. Descartes then states that there are no definitive signs for him to tell weather he is awake or asleep. Since he cannot trust his senses he concludes that there is no way to determine whether he is awake or asleep. But he admits that there are certain “truths” that are consistent weather he is awake or asleep. For instance two plus three equals five, and that a square has four sides in his sleep, and while conscious.
To disprove these beliefs Descartes abandons the idea of a supremely good God like he has believed in all his life and brings up the argument that God is an all powerful, all clever evil genius whos entire purpose is to deceive Descartes. With these three arguments, each larger than the next, Descartes is satisfied that he has adequately disproved the previous argument. Since he has done this he is now ready to lay down a new foundation of knowledge and find the “truth.” This passage reminds me of the movie “The Matrix”, in that God acts as the computers did in the Matrix. Descartes is trying to free his mind as Neo had to do because the computers only let Neo see what they wanted him to by altering his senses, just like Descartes believes God is doing to him. The reason why I dont particularly like this essay by Descartes is because I feel that his argument is weak and ridiculous at the same time. Descartes claims, or at least says for purpose of argument that in order to find the real truth he must not trust anything that he was taught or knows because his senses deceive him.
Fine lets assume that our senses do deceive us, and that there really is a big, all powerful, evil genius of a God. It would be impossible to ever find out the truth and thats what bothers me about this argument. Our senses deceive us. Everything we see, taste, smell, hear and feel are all false. If this were the case it would be impossible to ever find out the”truth” because every piece of information and every belief, thought, and emotion comes from one of our senses.
And if on top of that, if God was all powerful and deceiving there would be absolutely nothing we could to obtain the truth. Something that is all powerful, has control over every thought, belief and idea that we have. And if Descartes believes this then he must believe that this deceiving God is putting the idea in his brain that if he ignores his senses he will obtain truth. If his God is deceiving and all powerful then he will never discover truth. Descartes tries an alternative way to look at reality, the initial idea and the concept as a whole (looking at reality from a different perspective) is a very interesting one.
But the way he goes about explaining it was not particularly impressive. There are just too many holes in his explanation and he constantly contradicts himself and his points seem to work against themselves, as opposed to supporting his hypothesis. I also am not a big fan of Descartes wordy self examining style of writing. It is often very hard to understand, and the concepts that he is trying to get explained could be explained a lot more clear. In conclusion I feel that Descartes First Meditation has a good and interesting central core to it. But the way he went out and attempted to prove his points was very disappointing.
He had too many contradictions and a terrible style of writing on top of it (In my opinion.) I do not like nor do I agree with Descartes First Meditation. * The reason I decided to write on this topic is because Descartes was the hardest philosopher for me to understand. And once I finally understood his argument and was able to look through all of his wordiness, I was so angry that I spent such a long time to understand a weak argument I decided that I would writ a paper on it. That is why I am so critical of him.