Descartes Skeptical Argument And Reponses By Bouwsma And Malcolm

2179 words - 9 pages

Descartes' Skeptical Argument and Reponses by Bouwsma and Malcolm

In this essay, I will examine Rene Descartes' skeptical argument and
responses by O.K. Bouwsma and Norman Malcolm. I intend to prove that while both
Bouwsma and Malcolm make points that refute specific parts of Descartes'
argument in their criticisms, neither is sufficient in itself to refute the
In order to understand Descartes' argument and its sometimes radical ideas,
one must have at least a general idea of his motives in undertaking the argument.
The seventeenth century was a time of great scientific progress, and the
blossoming scientific community was concerned with setting up a consistent
standard to define what constituted science. Their science was based on
conjunction and empirical affirmation, ideally without any preconceived notions
to taint the results. Descartes, however, believed that the senses were
unreliable and that science based solely on information gained from the senses
was uncertain. He was concerned with finding a point of certainty on which to
base scientific thought. Eventually he settled on mathematics as a basis for
science, because he believed mathematics and geometry to be based on some
inherent truths. He believed that it was through mathematics that we were able
to make sense of our world, and that the ability to think mathematically was an
innate ability of all human beings. This theory becomes important in Descartes'
Meditations because he is forced to explain where the mathematical ideas that he
believed we were born with came from. Having discussed Descartes' background, I
will now explain the specifics of his argument.
The basis of Descartes' entire argument is that the senses can not be
trusted, and his objective is to reach a point of certainty, one undeniable
truth that fixes our existence. He said it best in his own words, "I will . . .
apply myself earnestly and openly to the general destruction of my former
opinions."1 By opinions he meant all the facts and notions about the world
which he had previously held as truths. Any point which had even the slightest
hint of doubt was discarded and considered completely false. Descartes decided
that he would consider all things until he found that either nothing is certain,
which is itself a point of certainty, or he reached the one undeniable truth he
was searching for. In order to accomplish this certainty, in the first
Meditation he asks the reader to assume that they are asleep and that all their
sensory information is the product of dreams. More significantly, Descartes
implies that all consciousness could actually be a dream state, thus proving
that the senses can be doubted. The dream argument has its intrinsic problems,
however. One, is that images in dreams can be described as "painted images".2
In other words, a dream image is only a portrait of a real-life object, place or
person. If we are dreaming then it is implied that at some point we were

Find Another Essay On Descartes Skeptical Argument And Reponses By Bouwsma And Malcolm

Carl Sagan and Skeptical Thinking Essay

1204 words - 5 pages Among the tools for skeptical thinking provided by Sagan’s essay are: facts confirmation, authority can be wrong, comparing your hypothesis objectively to others, quantify, chain of argument, and always try to falsify the hypothesis. The foundation of science is built on trust. It is constructed on the fact that scientists using research and precise testing to based data on. Scientific testing uses analytical and statistical methods accurately

This is an argument depicting the different theories of philosophers Descartes and Plato. ;-) Enjoy!!

710 words - 3 pages Philosophical ArgumentFinal CopyAlthough they differ in method, both Descartes and Plato share relatable views and opinions on the methods of doubt and recollection. Each philosopher is able to color in his method with theoretical insight and depth. There is a recognizable link between the two methods. Descartes uses Plato's method of recollection while in the process of explaining his own.Descartes takes on the doubtful viewpoint and points out

MLK and Malcolm X

1321 words - 5 pages was not great — in fact, it was horrible. The teacher replied that such an occupation is unreasonable for a black person, and thus he should aim for a job as a laborer, such as a carpenter. Discouraged, Malcolm began to slack in school, and eventually dropped out at the age of fifteen, unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., who attended Morehouse College and the Crozer Theological Seminary. By the time Malcolm was a young adult, his life spiraled out

Malcolm X And Gandhi

676 words - 3 pages The famous Mahatma Gandhi and Malcolm X left behind legacies that still influence the world today. One of the major factors that impacted these two historical figures was religion. The characteristics of Hinduism definitely had an effect on Gandhi’s peaceful and nonviolent views, just like the Islamic religion guided Malcolm X’s beliefs of by any means necessary. Their religious affiliations were not only deciding factors in their lives, but

Martin and Malcolm

2156 words - 9 pages black unity became the dominant theme of his cause. After establishing the “common enemy” Malcolm was able to critique the March on Washington and show how whites were taking advantage of blacks: making them fools. He stated “it was a sellout. It was a takeover…They controlled it so tight—they told those Negroes what time to hit town, how to come, where to stop, what signs to carry, what songs to sing…and then told them to get out of town by

Descartes and the Matrix

823 words - 3 pages ?" Definitely, it resembles Descartes. The Matrix shares parallels with the theory of the senses and the evil deceiver theory of Descartes.Descartes´ philosophical stand point about the senses is commonly used throughout "The Matrix". During his lifetime, Descartes developed a very peculiar and unique method of fundamental questioning. The method of doubt. This consisted on being skeptical about everything in the world, no matter how familiar

Descartes and New Science

1675 words - 7 pages be disputes about the legitimacy of the philosophy and the arguments that it makes. Thus, the first thing the Descartes does is to create a new metaphysics. If he basis his new metaphysics on certainty than everything being derived from it, if it is made with valid and sound argument, will also be on solid foundation. Descartes starts out by throwing out every belief that he has. This is a difficult task but Descartes wants us to have no

Descartes and God

1158 words - 5 pages , Descartes also uses the idea of God as an innate idea as well. Is this possible, can he have an innate idea of an external being? Descartes begins his argument, of the existence of God, with the only thing he knows to be true; that through doubting, he must exist. By knowing he doubts he therefore does not know everything. This makes him imperfect. However, to know that he is an imperfect being he must therefore have an idea of what is perfection. And

Descartes - Mind and Body.

2270 words - 9 pages endowed us with these natural inclinations to allow us self preservation. Descartes now dispels his dream hypothesis because he realizes that wakefulness is the interaction of both mind and body. He leaves us with the message that "we must acknowledge the infirmity of our nature." It is Descartes hope in Meditation two that he is able to find his first certainty. By use of the Cogito argument Descartes does just that. Having proven his existence

Descartes and his theories

653 words - 3 pages 'I think therefore I am.' Man wills, refuses, perceives, understands, and denies many principles. As explained by Rene' Descartes, man is a thinking thing, a conscious being who truthfully exists because he is certain that it is so. All that man perceives is internally present and not external to him or his mind. The focal point of the third meditation that must be dealt with is: Can one perceive or confirm the existence of an idea or object

Descartes and Dualism

624 words - 2 pages common sense level, but that one must "probe to the micro-level" (Cottingham 4).   Through his technique of doubting everything which he believed to exist and establishing a new philosophy, Descartes discovered that without a doubt, the only thing he could truly believe to exist was his own mind. He then supposed that a demon was deceiving him by causing him to believe that which he saw.  With this idea, he concluded "all external

Similar Essays

Critical Responses By O.K. Bouwsma And Norman Malcolm To Descartes' Skeptical Argument

2200 words - 9 pages In this essay, I will examine Rene Descartes' skeptical argument and responses byO.K. Bouwsma and Norman Malcolm. I intend to prove that while both Bouwsma andMalcolm make points that refute specific parts of Descartes' argument in theircriticisms, neither is sufficient in itself to refute the whole.In order to understand Descartes' argument and its sometimes radical ideas, onemust have at least a general idea of his motives in undertaking the

The Ontological Argument Presented By Descartes And The Cosmological Argument Presented By Aquinas

1455 words - 6 pages The Ontological Argument Presented by Descartes and the Cosmological Argument Presented by Aquinas Descartes, often called the father of modern philosophy, developed Anselm’s argument, in attempting to prove God’s existence from simply the meaning of the word ‘God’. The ontological argument is a priori argument, such arguments use logic to prove an initial definition to be correct. The basis of these arguments depends upon

"The Ontological Argument": Explain The Traditional Forms Of The Ontological Argument Put Forward By Anselm And Descartes

1584 words - 6 pages Descartes, Gottfried Leibnix, Norman Malcolm, Charles Hartshorne and Alvin Plantinga; a modal logic version of the argument was formulated by Kurt Godel. The argument itself examines the concept and definition of God, stating that this implies the existence of God - it is to contradict oneself to say that God does not exist. There have been many versions because each one begins with a different notion or definition of God.In Proslogion Anselm wrote

D's Skeptical And Buddhism Belief!!! Essay

619 words - 2 pages Descartes has rational basis for believing in GOD. While, I don't have the rational basic for T, therefore I don't believing in T.The revised skeptical argument stated: First, if I know something, then there are no possible grounds for doubt about it. Second, there are possible grounds for doubt about anything other than my existence and how things seem to me. Third, so, I don't know anything other than that I exist and that things seem to me a