Descartes Philosophy And Confirming Our Own Existence
Throughout Meditations I & II Descartes presents multiple doubts while also arguing things he is clearly not able to doubt. In Meditations 1 Descartes reflects on his sensory knowledge and how sometimes it can be deceived by what he calls an “evil deceiver. ” He realizes that even while dreaming he could be sensing real life things and believes that dreams could actually be based off of real experience, this creating the dream argument. However, he reflects on how even the littlest things could also be doubted such as the belief of God always being good and honorable. We then continue into Meditations II where Descartes then presents the arguments of how we are not only “things that think” but how we are also able to imagine and sense. This leads to show how we perceive things and how we may not be able to trust our imagination due to the chance of still being deceived. We then come upon the “wax argument” which shows how easy it is to actually be deceived by our senses. Towards the end Descartes can conclude that he himself cannot doubt that he is a thing that thinks and that he exists (cogito). Now that I have presented all of the doubts and things we cannot doubt, I will furthermore explain my beliefs in these problems.
How can I be sure I am not always dreaming? The Dream argument shows evidence that our senses that we use to evaluate illusions compared to real life cannot be believed or trusted because there are no true ways to determine if we are in reality or the dream world. For example, we do not know we are in a dream when it is happening. If I had a dream about being a dog, when I wake up how do I know I am not actually a dog dreaming about being a human? There is a doubt that my life could actually just be one big illusion and what I think is reality could be my dream, and I can’t determine which one is real. This makes me skeptical because my entire life could just be me dreaming but the more I think about it I know this cannot be true. I am arguing that it is not true because there is a way to dream and be aware that you are dreaming, called “lucid dreaming”. If I am in a dream I do not like I am able to tell myself “this is a dream, it is not real” and I will suddenly leave the dream and be awake and aware. Some people have learned to perceive this difference and some have not, but the differences are there. If we were thinking critically, we would also notice that dreams are not like reality such as transitions that cannot occur in reality, violations of physical law and other factors. In a dream I may be able to transport to different places or even fly, you are not able to do this in reality and never will be. If I dream about having super powers and being able to do whatever I want, I can perceive that I am in fact in a dream because in real life there are laws and things you are not able to do because they are not possible in any way. My next point is about God and the evil deceiver.
Once Descartes confirms that he has knowledge of his own existence, he has to build a new structure on this foundation and uses the idea of God to prove that there is no possible way of there being some evil thing making us deceive our thoughts. It is believed that God is perfect and would not deceive us because if he did, this would not be perfect. This shows that it would be against the nature of God to deceive. The cause of all of this is Descartes being certain that he himself exists, “I think, therefore I am. ” Descartes needs a God to prove why things exist. In my opinion, I believe we have a God because existence is basically perfection so a God must exist. But on the other hand do we believe in a concept of God or God being something himself. All religions have a different perception of a “God”. How do we know if we are believing in the right one? This confuses me because I cannot find a justified reason in believing which one is right. We have the bible which tells stories about how God and how his son Jesus was born and sacrificed on the cross but I have no real proof. Though I am not sure what to believe I still have the idea that there is something, whether it is a being or just a concept.
When Descartes is confirming his own existence he realizes that he must understand his mind more than anything. This realization is the effect of “The Wax Argument”. In this argument Descartes is trying to figure out what he really is and refers to himself as a “thing that thinks”. We talked about how he believes his senses and imagination could not always be trusted in the dream argument, so we can’t use this to support the fact that he knows he exists. While trying to understand he uses a piece of wax as an example of the knowledge of ourselves. When a piece of wax is melted and its properties change, it is still the same piece of wax. Although, we cannot use our senses to determine this because all of the properties that changed were sensible. This proves that the mind is better at understanding than the body. He cannot doubt that there is a piece of wax overall because it is still always there whether it is melted or solid. The wax helped Descartes understand that he most definitely exists. He himself is real and is a thinking thing because perceptions do not and cannot come from senses. Descartes realizes that he has no doubt in that he exists and is real and nothing can change that.
This response in my point of view does not have any flaws because it is based on material, the wax changes shape and form but it is always still the same piece of wax. The wax argument also shows us the difference between minds and bodies, and proves we know more about our mind than the body. This is true because our minds and our bodies tell us two totally different things, our mind can truly identify things and our senses can’t because our senses can deceive us. This statement proves that we can rely on our minds more than anything and it is capable of much more than our senses are.
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