Weaknesses Of Descartes' Arguments Essay

1680 words - 7 pages

Descartes was incorrect and made mistakes in his philosophical analysis concerning understanding the Soul and the foundation of knowledge.  Yes, he coined the famous phrase, “I think therefore I am,” but the rest of his philosophical conclusions fail to be as solid (Meditation 4; 32). Descartes knew that if he has a mind and is thinking thoughts then he must be something that has the ability to think. While he did prove that he is a thinking thing that thinks (Meditation 3; 28), he was unable to formulate correct and true philosophical arguments and claims.  For instance, his argument for faith that a non-deceiving God exists and allows us to clearly reason and perceive was a circular argument.  Another issue with Descartes' philosophy is that he wanted to reconcile scientific and religious views, which is wrong since the two maintain completely different foundational beliefs and they should exist exclusively- without relation to the other.  Thirdly, he believed that the mind was the Self and the Soul, failing to recognize that humans have bodies and the outside world exists, and through which we gain our knowledgeable. Lastly, Descartes argues that ideas are all innate while they actually are not- we gain knowledge through experience.
Firstly, Descartes made the mistake of supporting a conclusion with premises that can only be true if the conclusion was a premise for the other premises that were supporting it. To clarify, Descartes basically stated that the clarity of his reasoning and perceptions are only possible through the existence of a non-deceiving God and that the non-deceiving God can only be proved through the clear reasoning and perceptions that the non-deceiving God bestowed upon him (51, 52). This is clearly an extremely large logical flaw on the behalf of Descartes, and therefore his reasoning was invalid. This must mean that humans have the ability to reason and perceive not through a non-deceiving God but through other means. Also, it is wrong to think that just because we can reason clearly that a non-deceiving God must be allowing us to do so. It is possible that this is just a natural occurrence in human beings because it is an intrinsic characteristic.
Secondly, to even think to reconcile scientific and religious views is entirely inappropriate. Descartes was a dualist in that he divided reality into two distinctly different realms. He said that the mind, which is what he thought was the Soul and not a physical brain, existed on its own and that the body was just a perceived extension of the mind. While he said that the mind and the body were related, he proposed that the mind was not governed by the body and therefore maintained free will. On the other hand, Descartes believed that the body can only be studied and explained through science. The mind was capable of free will, which has a religious connotation in that it denotes that a higher force, or God, is not controlling the minds of humans but then their...

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