Descartes "A Perceived Reality"

Essay by VerisimilitudeA+, April 2007

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Everyone has their own point of view. Their own personal perspective of the world founded upon past experiences. Past experiences understood and remembered through ones senses of touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing. It is the accumulation of past experiences that comprise ones intellect. This principle of thought examined by Rene Descartes deductive reasoning brings the Socratic ideals of the Forms in question in turn doubting all that is perceived as truth. "Therefore I suppose that everything I see is false. I believe that none of what my deceitful memory represents ever existed. I have no senses whatever. Body shape, extension, movement, and place are all chimeras. What then will be true? Perhaps just the single fact that nothing is certain." From this ideal Descartes continues to argue that sensation at its core is a mental process.

Descartes physical observation of a piece of wax is a key component for his argument.

He describes how he perceives the piece of wax through his senses. "It has been taken quite recently from the honeycomb; it has not yet lost all the honey flavor. It retains some of the scent of flowers from which it was collected. Its color, shape and size are manifest….If you rap on it with your knuckle it will emit a sound." He then brings the wax toward the heat of an open flame. It beings to melt losing all of the perceived qualities felt by mans senses becoming a moldable pool of wax. The once firm definite shape can now be molded into an infinite number of different forms. More forms then one could ever grasp with their imagination.

Descartes concludes his "wax experiment" by stating that because he could not imagine all of the possible forms of the wax he must perceive the wax through mind...