Plato Study Guide

This essay has a total of 1470 words and 5 pages.


Descartes 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
proving the existence of G-d, doing so without a great deal of difficulty. At one point in
his discourse on method, Descartes sets out a code of morals, which he plans to abide by.
Descartes states that he plans to "obey the laws and the customs of my country, constantly
holding on to the religion in which, by G-d's grace, I had been instructed from my
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