Descarts meditation

Essay by ucefUniversity, Bachelor's June 2006

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Meditations is a discussion of metaphysics, or what is truly real. In these writings, he

ultimately hopes to achieve absolute certainty about the nature of everything including

God, the physical world, and himself. It is only with a clear and distinct knowledge of

such things that he can then begin understand his true reality. Descartes starts by looking

at our usual sources for truth. Authority, which is churches, parents, and schools, he says,

are not reliable sources for truth because time shows we all die, and that we are

eventually proved wrong, much in the same way the accepted truths of science have

changed dramatically over the course of history. Also, he considers the generally excepted

view that our senses dependably report the absolute nature of reality. Simiar to authority,

Descartes discards the senses as a source of truth because of the "Dream Argument" or

the belief that based on the senses there is no definite way of proving that you are

dreaming or that you are awake.

Therefore it is possible that everything we believe is

false, making the senses an unreliable source. Upon establishing this, Descartes doubts

the existence of a physical or external world. Despite that he has an idea of things in the

world, he has no way of knowing if they exist past his own mind. Another point he

addresses is mathematics. He soon realizes math's truth isn't completely reliable because

of the "Demon Hypothesis", which acknowledges the possibility of an all powerful being

that is deceiving him about everything, including mathematics. As a result, Descartes

ponders the possibility that he has no way of being completely positive about anything,

even his existence. It is only after some deliberation that he decides that it is impossible

to be incorrect about everything because he has doubt,