Meditations In First Philosophy Essay

1089 words - 4 pages

Rene Descartes was born in 1596. At the age of 10, he began school at College Henri IV. Descartes received a classical education at College Henri IV and learned many subjects, including math, at the Jesuit institution. Many years later, he received his baccalaureate and licentiate degrees in law and then joined the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau. Descartes never served combat, but he did have a life changing moment while in the army. While meditating about the uncertainty and disunity of knowledge, he had an epiphany about how he could make knowledge more certain and unified, such as mathematics. After a period of not focusing on how to make his idea a reality, he finally sat down and focused after receiving encouragement from Cardinal de Berulle. In 1637, he wrote “A Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Well and Searching for the Sciences” Part IV of this book explored the beginnings of how knowledge could be unified and have absolute certain. After many questions and comments on Part IV he wrote “Meditations in First Philosophy” to expand on his ideas in 1640. “Meditations” was a very controversial book and made a lot of people outraged. Descartes went on to write more books before passing away from pneumonia in 1650.
In the first meditation of “Meditations in First Philosophy”, Descartes writes about the things he once considered to be certain truths which now can be proven as doubts. These are a few of his assertions.
1. Senses are deceptive.
2. Descartes questions does God really exist.
Descartes doubted senses because they could deceive a person. For example, dreams give people a false sense of security that they are awake. Everything inside a dream feels real even though it isn’t. Descartes establishes the only thing real in dreams that is the simple things such as math and the shape of things. However, this leads him to wonder if God really exists or if it’s an evil genius that is deceiving him on how the world came to be. Descartes wonders if everything is really true or if he is being deceived which makes him begin to doubt everything.
In "Meditation 2: Concerning the Nature of the Human Mind: That It Is Better Known than the Body", Descartes decides to expand on what he cannot doubt. One thing that Descartes cannot doubt is that he exists. At first, he does have a few doubts about whether he exists, because in the first meditation, he finds doubt in almost everything. If some powerful creator can deceive him, he wonders how he can trust that he exists. "Even if all of my experience is an illusion, it cannot be doubted that the experience is taking place. And this means that I, the experiencer, must exist" (Summary of Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy). He realizes that he must exist because he can conceive it in his mind. Another thing he cannot doubt is that he has a mind. Descartes asserts he is a thing that thinks and notes that the body is not responsible for the senses or imagery but that it is...

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