A Critical Look at Descartes' "Meditations"
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The paper relates that Descartes' "Meditations" is considered by many to be the seminal work in modern Western philosophy. The paper discusses how Descartes begins his "Meditations" by establishing skepticism as the baseline of all his inquiries and he argues that knowledge is obtained only through reasoning and not through the senses. The paper outlines his "dream argument" that is based on the idea that there is no way to be certain that one is not asleep, but notes the many arguments against this theory. The paper also points out the critiques of Descartes' evil demon argument and the criticisms philosophers have of the way Descartes dismisses any reliance on our senses as a basis of knowledge. The paper concludes, however, that regardless of whether one adheres to the positions offered by Descartes in his "First Meditation", his importance to the history of philosophy cannot be denied and, his importance to the development of math and science is equally impressive.
From the Paper:"Descartes begins his Meditations by establishing skepticism as the baseline of all his inquiries. In the First Meditation, Descartes calls into question Aristotle's reliance on the senses as the source of knowledge and brings reasoning and rationality into the equation. For Descartes, knowledge is obtained only through reasoning and not through the senses. The senses are only a pragmatic method for helping us move through our lives and play no role in acquiring knowledge.
"Descartes' Meditations is a six volume treatise in which the author lays out his philosophy. In the first volume, which has often been subtitled as "What can be called into doubt," Descartes examines the various falsehoods to which he has been exposed and how they have affected his life. He does not examine each opinion or belief in his life individually but, instead, resolves to question and doubt everything. Recognizing the impossibility of abandoning everything that he has previously learned he decides to pretend that all such information is false and imaginary in order to ignore the effect of such thoughts.
"Descartes goal in writing his Meditations was to explain his new view of philosophy and to explain away the long held beliefs that owed their origin to Aristotle. In doing so, Descartes, however, started his reasoning by appearing to agree with the Aristotelian position and then through organized and thoughtful argument he carefully worked his readers toward his new position."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Descartes, R. (1999). Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings. New York: Penguin Classics.
- Dicker, G. (1993). Descartes: An Analytical and Historical Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
- Locke, J. (1986). The Second Treatise on Civil Government. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
- Ryle, G. (1960). Dilemmas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Cite this Analytical Essay:
A Critical Look at Descartes' "Meditations" (2013, May 22) Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/a-critical-look-at-descartes-meditations-153333/
"A Critical Look at Descartes' "Meditations"" 22 May 2013. Web. 18 August. 2022. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/a-critical-look-at-descartes-meditations-153333/>