Descartes' meditations: Descartes' discourse on method

Essay by drnklush83College, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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In Descartes' First Meditation he wants to demolish his opinions so he can decipher what is true and what is false with no biases. For example, today someone may hold beliefs in the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause but later in life will learn that these are false truths. In order to do this Descartes will reject all of his opinions. Instead of attacking each issue individually he will attack the foundation on which all of these opinions are formed and thus once he destroys the foundations all of the issues supported by it will crumble. He talks about dreaming to prove that although humans believe they know the difference between what is real and what is not, it is very possible that they really do not know the difference and could be living a dream while they think they are sleeping. Also Descartes distinguishes between those that are sane and those that are insane even though sane humans dream the same events and an insane human would live.

Descartes says that arithmetic, geometry, and other such disciplines cannot be doubted because they deal with the most pure and general things. He gives the example that in his sleep 2 plus 3 will always equal 5 and while he is awake 2 plus 3 will also always equal 5. According to Descartes, if one assumes that God allows for deception then it is probable that one is always being deceived. Descartes states that if one believes instead of a good God there is an evil genius it would be to difficult to concentrate on all of the deception and one would slip back into the false opinions and beliefs they once held.

In Decartes' Second Meditation he ponders such things as What cannot be doubted and why, why is each...