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Cartesian Doubt

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Cartesian Doubt

In his first meditation, Descartes sets out with amazing clarity and persistence to clear
himself of every false idea that he has acquired previous to this, and determine what he truly knows.
To rid him of these rotten apples he has developed a method of doubt with a goal to construct
a set of beliefs on foundations which are indubitable.
On these foundations, Descartes applies three levels of skepticism, which in turn, generate three
levels at which our thoughts may be deceived by error. Descartes states quite explicitly in the
synopsis, that we can doubt all things which are material as long as we have no foundations for the
sciences other than those which we have had up till now(synopsis:12). This skepticism also implies
that doubt can free us from prejudices, enabling the mind to escape the deception of the senses, and
possibly discover a truth which is beyond doubt.
The first and main deception in Descartes opinion has evolved from sense perception
What ever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through
the sense. But from time to time I have found that the senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust
completely those who have deceived us even once(1:18[13]).
At the root of our beliefs, Descartes argues, lie the experiences we gain from our senses,
because these are sometimes mistaken, as in the case of mirages or objects which appear small in the distance,
and because of this he will now for...



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Submitted by: freeessay
Category: Philosophy
Words: 4730
Pages: 18.92