Descartes1 Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 1493 words and 5 pages.


Des cartes Meditations Descartes’ ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ (I am, I exist)
argument is a complex one. In many ways, he constructs a convincing argument for the
existence of the self, and for the process of the thinking being, the essence of that
self. In this meditation on his philosophy, Descartes on numerous attempts tries to
convince both the readers, as well as himself, of his theory that we must reject all of
our present ideas and beliefs and start from nothing. He believes that the only thing that
has any certainty at this point is “his own existence as a thinking being”.
Everything else, which he has learned throughout his entire life and believed in, is to be
thrown out because it is not known “clearly and distinctly”. Descartes’
method and theory on knowledge was well planned and carefully thought out. It is evident
that he spent a great deal of time determining the principles that he would use as
determinants for judging whether a specific idea was justified and true. In my opinion,
there are some flaws contained in Descartes’ argument. Among these flaws are
Descartes’ apparent determination to prove his theory on his individual existence in
the world and the existence of G-d to backup and prove himself and his theories. At the
beginning of meditation two, Descartes is ‘stuck in the middle of
nothingness’. He has nothing, nothing to believe in and everything around him he
regards as false. This is because he cannot believe what he has learned and he is also
unable to trust his senses due to the fact that they deceive him. He feels like he is
‘drowning in a whirlpool and cannot reach the top and get out nor can he put his
feet on the bottom and stand’. Everything in the world at this point he has called
into doubt, including himself. Everything that he has ever seen, learned or thought is now
external from what he deems to be true and he is beginning his knowledge from
non-existence. Descartes although is certain of one thing, nothing (but to be certain of
nothing is still to be certain of something?). Descartes is a rational thinker and he
rationalizes through his studies that nothing in the world is known. He decided to
re-start his belief process and call everything he has ever believed in, into doubt. He is
debating complex ideas in his head, changing his mind and objectively making decisions, so
his existence in a world has to be a certainty. The fact that he is having these thoughts,
whether right or wrong proves mental capacity. Descartes then states with certainty
‘Cogito ergo sum’ (I am, I exist). This is the first accurate idea that
Descartes knows with any conviction, he knows that he is a “thinking being”.
Descartes still does not know what he is, he says “but what then am I? A thing that
thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses,
and that also imagines and senses”. He is aware of his mental capacity and knows he
thinks, deliberates and makes decisions, but he still rejects his body and his senses. One
major flaw found in Descartes’ argument is that while critically examining, and then
rejecting, mostly everything in the world around him, he maintained that he could prove
the existence of G-d, beyond a shadow of a doubt. For thousands of years, people have been
trying to prove G-d’s existence but he has yet to be successful. It seems to me that
Descartes showed a display of arrogance in supposing that he could devise a method of
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