This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Problems With Descartes' Philosophy Essay

3566 words - 14 pages

Problems with Descartes' Philosophy

It is from the views of Descartes that most of the metaphysical systems of the last three centuries begin, trying to improve upon them, or to overcome what they regard as difficulties in the Cartesian system.

René Descartes is responsible for the predominance of the problem of human knowledge in modern philosophy. Many of the systems of philosophy and theories of knowledge which have arisen in the last three centuries can trace their lineage directly to the influence of the questions Descartes raised and the method he employed in answering them. He promulgated the principle of "science without presuppositions" and thereby introduced a new epoch in science and philosophy. It will, therefore, not be amiss to analyze his fundamental ideas and evaluate his method.
As his starting point Descartes begins with the contention that we rely entirely too much on traditional doctrines and spontaneous convictions, so that our supposed knowledge of truth rest mostly on unproved presuppositions. This makes it difficult for us to distinguish between truth and error, since we do not know what is true knowledge and what is unwarranted belief. Hence, he would tear down the whole edifice of knowledge and rebuilt it from the foundation, and he would not begin to build until he had reached the one and ultimate truth which the bedrock of human knowledge.
Methodic Doubt
Being a mathematician, Descartes felt convinced that he could deduce all truth from a single fundamental principle. As the instrument of his search for truth he used a universal methodic doubt. His own words will best reveal his line of thought.
I. In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.
As we were at one time children, and as we formed various judgments regarding the objects presented to our senses, when as yet we had not the entire use of our reason, numerous prejudices stand in the way of our arriving at the knowledge of truth; and of these it seems impossible for us to rid ourselves, unless we undertake, once in our lifetime, to doubt of all those things in which we may discover even the smallest suspicion of uncertainty.
II. We ought also to consider as false all that is doubtful.
Moreover, it will be useful likewise to esteem as false the things of which we shall be able to doubt, that we may with greater clearness discover what possesses most certainty and is easiest to know.
III. We ought not meanwhile to make use of doubt in the conduct of life...
IV. Why we may doubt of sensible things.
Accordingly, since we now only design to apply ourselves to the investigation of truth, we will doubt, first, whether of all the things that have ever fallen under our senses, or which we have ever imagined, any one really exists; in the first place, because we know by experience that the senses sometimes err, and it would be imprudent to trust too much to what has even once...

Find Another Essay On Problems with Descartes' Philosophy

Rene Descartes Essay

1091 words - 4 pages interpreted as signs that he would found a universal science. The most important influence on Descartes at this time was the mathematician Issac Beeckman, who stimulated Descartes by posing a number of problems and discussing issues in physics and mathematics with him. His first substantial work was the Regulae or Rules for the Direction of Mind written in 1628-9 but not published until 1701. This work shows Descartes interest in method which he

Rene Descartes Essay

2268 words - 10 pages . Descartes was one of the earliest scholars to move away from the writings of the classics, earning him the title of the father of modern philosophy. While growing in a Bourgeois family in La Haya, France, Descartes became educated in liberal arts and many of the metaphysical beliefs of classical philosophers. Descartes first true contribution came in collaboration with Isaac Beeckman who partook in what became known as mathematical physics. It

Descartes vs Hume

1195 words - 5 pages Tyler Barg Oct 9 2014 Professor Higgins Intro to Philosophy Take a Position Papper #1: Descartes and Hume The great Greek philosopher Socrates based much of his teachings on searching for the meaning to the "self." The Delphic Oracle gave him these prophetic words "know thyself" (102) which would influence his existence and others. Yet for centuries the greatest minds have yet to agree on a concrete definition of what the self is. When we look

Descartes and God

1158 words - 5 pages probably, however we will only look at one such person. Rene Descartes attempts to use his own logic to come up with the conclusion that a perfect being does exist and that being is in itself God in his book Meditations on First Philosophy. We must first look at the background of Descartes thought process in the first two meditations where he explores the existence of himself and the use of methodic doubt, in order to get a feel on his position of

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

Descartes: Knowledge is Truth

1410 words - 6 pages Descartes: Knowledge is Truth With the emergence of the scientific revolution in the 17th century, views of society and nature were transformed throughout Europe. There were great developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry. The world and its views were changing, and with that change, came a new change in thought, a new change in philosophy. Apart from ancient Greek philosophy, which was centered on finding order in

René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes : A Dialogue

1467 words - 6 pages immense framework of philosophy that is contained within The Meditations. Consequently, we are biased by more recent modes of thought that cannot address Cartesian issues at quite the same level, as would an approach more contemporary to Descartes. It is for this reason that criticisms or objections by Descartes’ contemporaries provides us with a much needed alternative perspective, while at the same time preserving the historical context

Disproving Descart's Existence of God

1468 words - 6 pages the existence of himself and ends with the existence of God. However, many atheists (who do not believe in the existence of God) question the validity of Descartes' reasoning. Even those who do believe that God exists can find weaknesses in Descartes' arguments and often do not base their belief in God on Descartes' "Meditation on First Philosophy." I believe that Descartes' conclusion that God exists is weak and does not prove the existence of

Descartes - Father of Modern Philosophy

2168 words - 9 pages tutor her in philosophy. She wanted lessons to begin at five in the morning. Due to his fragile state and early scheduled classes, Rene caught pneumonia and died at the age of fifty four in 1650 (Unknown, 2002).Descartes meaning of the word idea meant that an idea is what people make of it. An idea is what one thinks but can only officially be a legitimate idea if the world agrees with it. Ideas may also be considered objectively, as the mental

The Scientific Method

1188 words - 5 pages For thousands of years prior to the Renaissance, the perspectives and beliefs of society remained relatively unaltered. However, with the start of the Renaissance around the 14th century, the world underwent rapid and radical change. Within the span of a relatively few hundred years, the extraordinary breakthroughs in science, traditional philosophy, and technology dramatically challenged society’s belief. Suddenly robbed of their long held

Analyzing Individuation and Identity In Descartes´ Philosophical View of the Mind-Body Dualism

1292 words - 5 pages Descartes’ philosophical view of the mind-body dualism. I will first start by explaining the structure of Cartesian dualism. I will also analyze the challenges of individuation and identity as they interact with Descartes. With a bit of luck, subsequently breaking down Descartes’ reasoning and later on offering my response, I can present wit a high degree of confidence that the problems of individuation and identity offer a hindrance to the Cartesians

Similar Essays

Wvo Quine: Two Dogmas Of Empiricism. A Summary Of Quine's Problems With Carnap's Philosophy

626 words - 3 pages analyticity by way of his state-descriptions results in a problematic definition of analyticity, which ends up being more indicative of logical truth. In conclusion, Quine presents a solution to his problems with Carnap positing that the boundary between synthetic and analytic is imagined.In his attempt to define analyticity Quine encounters a problematic attempt at defining the term, by Carnap. Carnap "has tended to explain analyticity by appeal

Descartes Philosophy Essay

658 words - 3 pages PhilosophyIn Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes attempts to prove the theory of Cogito, commonly known in popular culture as "I think, therefore I am." (AT 27) The Cogito is significant in Descartes' foundationalist project. Descartes foundationalist project consists of finding basic indubitable beliefs to base his future knowledge. This is because he believes that all knowledge processed through the senses can possibly be deceptive and

Rene Descartes's View On God Essay

1337 words - 5 pages , where he remained for eight years" ("Descartes").  There, he received instruction in mathematics, scholastic philosophy, and classical studies. Although he was planning on having a military career in the Netherlands, "his attention had already been attracted to the problems of mathematics and philosophy to which he was to devote the rest of his life" ("Descartes").   Descartes experienced an unforgettable night that November 10, which

Descartes Programme Of Doubt Essay

1827 words - 7 pages fore at an alarming rate for some. The ideas of Aristotle concerning the natural world were challenged by the scientific community of the time. Men such as Copernicus, Kepler, Brahe and Galileo proposed new theories in the fields of science and mathematics. (2) Descartes himself broke conclusively with the Aristolian and Scholasticism of his time. The beliefs and ideas he proposed have had an enormous impact on philosophy from his day right to the