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Review Of The Meditations Essay, Research Paper

The Meditations of Rene Descartes

In 1916 Rene Descartes wrote “What I wish to finish is . . . an absolutely new science enabling one to resolve all questions proposed on any order of continuos or discontinuous quantities.” (p8 Methods & Meditations). He made this ambitious statement at the young age of twenty-three. Rene’s ambition would take him far but it kept him from becoming the Aristotle of the modern age. The Meditations were an attempt to solve the many questions about life, existence, and God. At the time of their publishing many philosophers did not quit accept his writings. Today however the Meditations are widely read and reviewed throughout the world.

In the First Meditation Rene begins by stating that he know doubts his previous views and is forced to take a serious look at what he considers to be true. Rene will go as far to doubt God and whether he is truly good. His First Meditation will end with Descartes seemingly troubled over the nature of God. The meditations continue with his questioning of almost everything important to existence. Rene seemed unable to admit anything as truthful. The mind is something of great weakness and error, Descartes would say. He would continue and urge us not to trust what we see because there is no way of being certain about anything. Methodological doubt was his basis on life claiming that everything is to be doubted. Rene Descartes first begins to come to some kind of belief by the Third Meditation. Rene states . . . “I am certain that I am a thinking being; but do I not therefore likewise know what is required to make me certain of something?” (p113 Methods & Meditations). He goes on to say that God could not possibly be deceitful, it would not be his divine nature. This is when things start to come together for Rene. After acknowledging that a divine God could not possibly be evil Rene goes even further to say that he (God) must exist. This equation sounds strange but to this point Rene never really considered if God even existed or if he was simply a part of his imagination.

Rene’s motto, “De omnibus dubitandumest” (everything is to be doubted), lead him back to basic proofs. His theory of analytical geometry was the first major contribution to the field of science. This theory helped to offset some of his doubts and in many ways gave him the realization that some qualities in life can be proven. For Descartes rule of everything to be doubted was only part of his philosophical life. While taking this rule very serious he did not recommend it as a way of life. Descartes was only interested in the study of wisdom. He knew that the wisdom learned would be a sort of stepping stone for later generations. Going even further he states, “My wish is that prosperity may witness the happy outcome of it, etc.” (p187 Methods and Meditations).

The Meditations of Rene Descartes in many ways are a very valuable piece of philosophy. He did what many people did not in taking a close look at seemingly everything imaginable and studying its part in this world. He realized that his doubt alone made him an imperfect being. For a perfect being would know all and have nothing to doubt, Descartes would claim. At the time his teachings were not excepted but this did not discourage him too much. The mathematical theories were what made him famous so to speak. They are probably the single most important contribution that he made early on in his life. The idea of a posteriori led him in the study all things he could not prove in his mathematical theories. At first the Meditations seemed random and confusing but after reading them more closely they made sense and even made me think about what we really believe to be true.

Bibliography

Discours on Method and the Meditations. Rene Descartes


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