Descartes - Mind and Body.

Essay by bjfoxUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2003

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Descartes overall objective in the Meditations is to question knowledge. To explore such issues as the existence of God and the separation of mind and body, it was important for him to distinguish what we can know as truth. He believed that reason as opposed to experience was the source for discovering what is of absolute certainty. The first meditation acts as a foundation for all those that follow. Here Descartes discerns between mere opinion and strict absolute certainty. To make this consideration he establishes that he must first "attack those principles which supported everything I once believed." He first examines those beliefs that require our senses. He questions, whether our senses are true indicators of what they represent. By inspecting our sometimes firm belief in the reality of dreams, he comes to the conclusion that our senses are prone to error and thereby cannot reliably distinguish between certainty and falsity.

To examine those ideas that have "objective reality," Descartes makes the improbable hypothesis of "an evil genius, as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me." By proposing this solution he is able to suspend his judgment and maintain that all his former beliefs are false. By using doubt as his tool, Descartes is now ready to build his following proofs with certainty. In Meditation two, Descartes embarks on his journey of truth. Attempting to affirm the idea that God must exist as a fabricator for his ideas, he stumbles on his first validity: the notion that he exists. He ascertains that if he can both persuade himself of something, and likewise be deceived of something, then surely he must exist. This self validating statement is known as the Cogito Argument. Simply put it implies whatever thinks exists. Having established this,