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Descartes And Method Of Doubt Essay, Research Paper

French philosopher Rene Desartes’s Meditation One: Concerning Those Things that

Can Be Called into Doubt is a method of determining which beliefs are certain

and which are doubtful. Descartes applied illusion argument, dreaming argument,

and evil genius argument. In this paper, I will discuss how method of doubt

supposed to work in general with examples and also why does Descartes adopts

this particular method. Furthermore, I will add how method of doubt enables

Descartes to achieve his goals and how he uses this particular method to

accomplish his goals. Descartes’s method of doubt is practically about sorting

out our beliefs and keeping the only absolute beliefs, which cannot possibly be

false. "?because undermining the foundations will cause whatever has been

built upon them to fall down of its own accord–I will at once attack those

principles which supported everything that I once believed." Descartes is

saying that because of the weak foundations the built will fall on its own

sooner or later therefore, he will "at once" attack his principles. I

have perfect example to use here. My Dad usually tells us what is the reason

behind Pakistan’s failure. When in 1947, Pakistan separated from India there

were no rules made and if there were they were not strictly enforced

consequently now Pakistan is falling apart. Now Pakistani people are doing

whatever they please to even though government is trying hard to discipline.

Since people are so employed making their own rules and breaking them nothing

seem to work. The purpose of my example is that when we start anything we must

have strong foundations, which must be secure and mighty powerful so it will

built up strongly. And if foundation is weak eventually it will collapse. (p.

214) 2 In dream argument Descartes argue which casts doubt on the truth on our

intellectual beliefs. For instance we normally think that world is in a

particular way, on the basis of our perceptions of the world. So, I know it?s

raining because I have perceptual belief that it’s raining. "How often has

my evening slumber persuaded me of such a customary things as these: that I am

here, clothed in my dressing gown, seated at the fireplace, when in fact I am

lying undressed between the blanket." In this sentence Descartes is trying

to explain that many time we dream and what we dream seem very real. According

to Descartes structure of the reasoning goes like this: (A) It looks to me that

it’s raining (B) So, I know that it’s raining The dream argument casts doubt on

the transition from A to B assuming that we cannot know what we can doubt. (A)

It looks to me that it’s raining (C) If I am dreaming then while it will look to

me that it’s raining when it’s not really raining. So, I cannot be certain that

it’s raining because it could be just a dream. (p. 215) The second argument

Descartes used is evil genius existence. Descartes used propositions of math

because math problems as 7+5=12 or cone have three does not rely on our senses

justification. Descartes used evil genius argument to prove that even a priori,

beliefs whose truth or falsity can be established independently of experience

could be doubtful. Maybe it’s evil genius, which is tricking us and making us to

believe that 3 7+5=12 or cone have three sides. Lets look at the structure of

the reasoning that will help us to understand little better. (A) It looks to me

that it’s raining. (B) If I am being deceived by the evil genius then while it

looks to me that it’s raining however, it’s not raining. So, I cannot be certain

that it’s raining because I could be just deceived by the evil genius. This

example confirm that if evil genius exist than we cannot be certain about

anything because it could be the evil genius that is tricking us and making us

believe in certain way. (p. 216) Also Descartes used illusion argument which

basically tells us how our senses deceive us. For example, I believe that it’s

raining based on vision. This could be false because vision can be uncertain.

"And it is mark of prudence never to trust wholly in those things which

have once deceived us." Descartes is telling us never trust your senses

which once deceived you because we cannot tell of course if we are being

deceived or not. (p. 214) These arguments form doubt on great numerous beliefs

we occupy. The only way out of this deadlock here would be, if we could tell

whether we are dreaming or being deceived. For example, if I knew that I was not

dreaming nor I am being deceived, then I would know that what is happening to me

was in fact the real incident. But the problem is we cannot be sure that we are

not dreaming or being deceived. Dreaming, illusion, and evil genius arguments

weaken all sort of knowledge from counting as accurate 4 knowledge. However, one

thing is certain in these arguments that they involve thinking. For instance, if

I am dreaming that it’s raining, I still think. Even if I am being deceived that

it’s raining, I still think. So, no matter if I am dreaming or being deceived I

am still thinking. From this cause, here is one thing for certain: that I think.

Descartes recognize that the fact he is thinking he exist because only what

exists can think. Lets look at this example: If I think that it’s raining

outside, I can be wrong about rain but I cannot be wrong about my thinking that

it’s raining. This method of doubt enable Descartes to achieve his goals

particularly at the end he came to conclusion that no matter if I am being

deceived or dreaming either way I am thinking, which is certain knowledge.

Descartes accomplished his goals by trying all the factors but finally at the

end he came to conclusion that no matter if he is dreaming, being deceived, or

his senses deceive him one thing is indubitable, which is thinking. In addition

to this, if he is thinking that means he exist because only those things which

can think exist. So, "I think therefore I exist." In conclusion,

Descartes’s method of doubt assumption that any belief that can be doubted is

false. Descartes used dream, illusion, and evil genius arguments lastly, came to

certain conclusion that no matter if he was being deceive or dreaming however,

one thing, Descartes argued, that was indubitable that he was thinking. And if

you are thinking that means you exist because something must exist to do the

doubting and thinking.


Sober, Elliott. Core Questions in Philosophy. New Jersey: Englewood Cliffs,

1995. Cress, A., Donald. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First

Philosophy. New York, 1999.

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