Descarte's Meditation one

Essay by Kurt P KonobiCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 1997

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Descartes' Meditation One

Being a foundationalist, Descartes needs to destroy the foundations of his beliefs

so that in his Meditations he will be able to build upon new foundations of undeniable

and self evident truths. In order to do this Descartes must first find a valid argument that

will allow him to doubt his foundation beliefs and in turn doubt what is considered to be

reality. He begins by first noting that one can not trust their own senses, because we can

be deceived by our sciences. An example of such would be if one looks at an optical

illusion, they are seeing something that is not really there, and therefore are being

deceived by their sense of sight. But this is not enough to justify doubting all things, so

Descartes offers a different approach, the Dream Argument.

The Dream Argument is essential in because it allows one to logically question

not only the senses but their surroundings and actions as well.

Although one can doubt

that what they see or hear is not really as is perceived; a person can not deny that they are

for instance, standing, thinking about how their senses are deceiving them, with their feet

planted on the ground, in their bedroom, feeling a little tired and so on. Only if one was,

as Descartes writes, "..insane, whose brains are impaired by such an unrelenting vapor of

black bile.." that they believe they are something other than what they are, would one

doubt reality, without an argument. The argument is as follows: If the experience of a

dream is indistinguishable between that dream and reality; and there is no test to

differentiate between dreaming and awakens, then one must doubt the world outside their

minds. This is so because even if one believes they...