My Paper is on Rene Descartes Second Meditation. I chose to analyze and critique the concepts and ideas that were presented in Rene Descartes second meditation because it is in the second meditation were Rene Descartes famous adage was produced “Cogito, Ergo Sum” or “I Think Therefore I’ am” and also I find his second meditation the most controversial and most interesting of all his meditations.
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The second meditation is the most controversial of Rene Descartes meditations because it is here that his first rule of methodic doubt process is clearly introduced which is “Accept nothing as true unless you can be sure that it is certain” and it is also here that his idea becomes Radicalized because it suggest that one must critique all types of knowledge, that one has to doubt everything including himself and this is what the second meditation is all about because the second meditation is about ones existence.
Descartes says that one must never accept anything or any knowledge unless one is certain of this knowledge and for Descartes being certain of knowledge means that there must be no place for doubt, it must be self verifying and it must be indubitable or in other words unquestionable and not open to doubt.
The second meditation starts with Descartes doubting existence itself because of the radicalism of his philosophy that assumes everything is false, so in the second meditations Descartes doubts even existence, he says that even our very own existence needs to be doubted so as to arrive at the truth in the end of course of the second meditation Descartes does prove that without a shadow of a doubt that one does exist because one thinks hence the famous saying “I think therefore I’ am.”
When one reads the second meditation Descartes does sound like someone who is a bit crazy and perhaps someone who had too much time in his hands because to doubt even existence is for me at first just down right absurd and many of us would have the same feeling on this matter maybe because of how we were brought up but it is exactly this kind of thinking that Descartes was trying to destroy he wants everybody to think for themselves and not just accept opinions as truths because if we just accept the texts of the ancient and the opinions of everybody as truths then how can we arrive at certain knowledge if those texts and opinions happen to be false he wants us to discover the truths for ourselves and perhaps he wanted people not to be lazy.
When reading the second meditation the philosophy that is included there is definitely a radical one because he doubts existence and that what we perceive as truth may in fact be false, perception for Descartes is deceitful and our mind errs all the time so there is no way for us to be certain of things. We can be certain of our existence however but not this kind of existence were there is the body and the limbs but our existence as a thinking being since for Descartes the body and the things around is maybe just be an illusion created by an evil deceiver who does all he can to deceive us with all this false perception or we can just be dreaming that what we see and feel is all but a dream and therefore not real because how can we be sure that we are not just dreaming right at this very moment and that we are just dreaming everything and everyone around us this concept was a very intriguing concept what if we were just dreaming all this time, this was a concept that is so intriguing that even Hollywood adopted it in their film Inception which delves into dream and reality.
The only certainty that we know we exist is that we know we are thinking and no great deceiver or dreams can doubt the fact that we think and therefore because we think we exist but for Descartes it is a thinking existence because it is the only thing that one can be certain of and that everything else we perceive may be false or just an illusion, one cannot trust our senses because are senses may just be an illusion or the senses may just be perceiving an illusion therefore not certain so for Descartes perception cannot arrive at the certitude of truth. Sensation as well is not a good determinant for certitude because one could again just be dreaming.
Thinking for Descartes is very important since thinking for him determines ones existence. The act of thinking is the self guarantee of thinking. The act of thinking provides the ground for realizing that one exist. Human beings have a natural propensity to think therefore he or she can prove his or her existence. Thinking can never be false, because it is a process, thinking itself is beyond judgment, the thoughts that come from thinking are always real we only make mistakes in our judgment. Descartes explains in the second meditation using the honeycomb wax as an example of what kind of existence we can perceive and have since the wax changes its form but yet we know it is still the same wax Descartes thought that perhaps this is the true existence we are not just body and limbs but we are beyond that because we can still change and still be the same and this is how our minds works it has something innate that enables us to know it distinctively.
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The Second Meditation deals with reality and existence, like I mentioned before I thought that Descartes perhaps just too much time on his hands for thinking something so crazy as that everything around us is just an illusion and that we cannot trust out perception. I thought to myself that here is another philosopher saying something controversial just top be noticed but now that I was a little aware of a science called quantum physics and now I wonder if Descartes was actually someone who was way ahead of his time in thinking that everything is just an illusion and that what we perceive is actually false because quantum physics itself says that perhaps what we perceive as real, what our senses perceive as true my actually be false because it may just be an illusion created by our sense perception. With this in mind Rene Descartes is not crazy and his theory was not absurd this despite him being a member of the Rosicrucian group which believed in an invisible church that they built.
Rene Descartes Philosophical theory on Existence and Reality was in fact a science which was way ahead of its time. His philosophy on doubting everything so as to arrive at certain knowledge can be seen as something radical and impractical and if we do take him literally then it is no doubt that this philosophy is indeed a radical form of Philosophy and an impractical one at that because one will just waste his time doubting and questioning everything one sees and this is just an impossible task. I think Rene Descartes is someone who was obsessed in knowing the truth and this led him to create this philosophy that before we can have certain knowledge we must first doubt. To have knowledge one must first doubt, this philosophy of Descartes becomes practical if we do not take to the extreme by really questioning everything, I think Descartes main point is that for man to use his reason rather than just accepting opinions, Descartes believes that reason is higher that any kind of opinion, Descartes wants us to use our reason and there is nothing radical about using our reason.
Rene Descartes Second Meditation
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