Interpretation of the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Descartes (Essay Sample)
The paper is about Interpretation of the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Descartes. It summarizes Descartes Meditation, and then the discussion and interpretation of the epistemology and metaphysics of Descartes including all six of his meditation follows.source..
Interpretation of the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Descartes
Every day presents new discoveries and ways of living and interaction. Most of the thing we experience in life seem complicated and beyond our control. Why are things the way they are? Are they real? However, we can perceive these things differently and understand them better with time. The best way to concentrate and see the true nature of these things is through meditation. Philosophers have been developing the concept of medication since from a very long time ago. One of such philosophers is Descartes, who is remembered even today for his work on figuring meditation. The first section of this paper summarizes Descartes Meditation, and then the discussion and interpretation of the epistemology and metaphysics of Descartes including all six of his meditation follows.
The Summary for Descartes Meditation
The main two aims for the meditator Descartes is to show that the source of scientific knowledge, as we know it today, does not lay in our senses but the mind. He also wants to show the compatibility between religion and science (Descartes and Tweyman 35). He aims to split the world into body and mind, where science will deal with the body and religious with the mind.
The concept of Descartesâ€™ meditation is an interesting one. He admits that he was living a lie, has been mistaken, and wants to discard his previous perceptions and thoughts and start afresh living a life he considers certain. He thinks that in his life he could be dreaming, and his senses are deceiving him to believe in things that are uncertain. However, even if he no longer wants to trust his senses, one thing is certain, he must be living or existing. Having the capability to doubt of the pre-conceptions proves to him that he is thinking, and something thinking and planning is currently in existence. His aim here is not to show everything that we see does not exist, or we human are incapable of knowing whether they exist or not. The aim is to prove that human knowledge on these things based on the senses is open to questions and doubt. The implication of this perception is that since we are certain that external things exist, it is impossible for human to have this knowledge through the senses but mind.
Although the existence of some external objects is not clear to him, he wants to believe that God exists, and his (Descartes) senses are not deceived by Him. He has reasons to believe that his ideas of the difference between his previous perceptions and the todayâ€™s can be created only by God, for He is so perfect. The Philosopher concludes that God exist, He cannot deceive him, and has caused a perfect idea (Descartes and Tweyman 37). Through Godâ€™s perception, Descartes starts to investigate material things. He later perceives that the extension is the attribute of the body, and things like breadth, shape, and size are the qualities of the body. In his conclusion, the mind (whose essence is thought) and the body (whose essence is the extension) are entirely distinct.
The Philosopher uses some forms of argument to stress the point about human knowledge and doubts. These arguments include the deceiving God argument, the dream argument, and the evil demon argument. The primary perception surrounding these three arguments is that humans do not perceive external and common objects directly but through the image of external objects and mind. Perception of sense does not provide any certainty of anything in the world that corresponding to the images in our minds.
The Interpretation of Descartes Meditation
Meditation I: What can be called into doubt?
Here, we see the Meditator reflecting of his past perceptions, knowledge and belief and how all this has affected the way he carries things. He is gathering reasons to doubt the way things are at the moment and wants to start new perceptions. Although almost everything that he has previously accepted is due to his deceiving senses, he is afraid he might cast everything into doubt if he also doubts the basic principle and foundation that are creating his new perception. He realizes that he learned everything he perceived as true through or from his senses. To him, senses can sometimes be deceiving.
This statement does not mean that Descartes concluded that the only way humans can receive their ideas was through their senses (Southwell 13). What it means is that we human are very dependent on the perception that we receive through and from our senses so as we can gather information, make judgments, or establish proofs. He admits that oneâ€™s senses can give them wrong information, and it is best not to put all trust in them. Good examples of senses and how they can mislead is the occurrence of Mirage (appearance of a water stretch up ahead), the appearance of the light from stars, and optical illusions.
In the argument of dreaming, the point is that we can dream that we are not asleep,(we are awake), and at the same time not know it (Southwell 15). This argument is a fantastic one. While dreaming, everything seems real, and the argument is that even at this time one is not so sure they are not dreaming. During dreaming, the moving images such as animals and people may not be existing, but after analyzing them we, see that they consist of some general ideas. These ideas are things like numbers (how many animals are there?), and shapes (round mangos). Although the mangos or animals are fiction in the dream, the principles of geometry or mathematics (that represents this idea in mind) may still apply. It means that although the number of animals or round mangos do not actually exist (fiction) the idea of the animals or roundness does.
Meditation II: The Nature of the Human Mind
In this meditation stage, Descartes is very much determined to continue pursuing his quest. He continues to believe the possibility of both the world and his body not existing, and that he does not have any senses. In addition, he does not trust the imagination, for it is not real, and cannot guide him in the process of realizing his essence. If both the world and he do not exist, how is it possible for him to have these doubts? He must exist. If he is misled by an evil demon, then he must exist to be misled.
In this ideology, we see that the physical world can be better understood by the use of reason and judgment, but not relying on what might be the case, through perceiving using imagination or senses. It is then not possible to reveal the true nature of things in the environment through seeing or touching them since we can only conceive these things in thought.
Meditation III: The Existence of God
In this meditation, although Descartes still has some doubts about the existence of most of the external things, he now believes he is a living and thinking creature that can understand, imagine, doubt and sense. To him, he now cannot be mistaken for ideas, emotions and violation and in he can only find himself making mistakes concerning judgment. At this time, he is somehow certain about geometry and arithmetic, although not one hundred percent certain, for maybe God is deceiving him (Detlefsen 203). The only way to be sure he is not deceived is by enquiring into Godâ€™s nature. Descartes is now determined to prove that God does exist. To him, thoughts are created by composite ideas, which are the atoms of thought. Descartes is very interested in matters pertaining judgment, for he knows this is the area that humans can be wrong about always. His aim is to identify what brings error, to make him understand the sources of doubts. That is why he is interested in adventitious, for he is certain people perceive things outside their minds with no degree of justification or certainty.
The perception that the philosopher has is that God is a perfect being, cannot be a deceiver, and took the time to create Descartes as His flawed being. Deceit will always stem from defects, and God is full of perfection. The conclusion is that this God does not only exist, he is also a non-deceiving great creator.
Meditation IV: Truth and Falsity
At the moment, Descartes has achieved most of his quest. He now knows the areas of weakness in the human state of knowledge, whereby he says that if people have to achieve certainty, they have to base their knowledge on things that are completely certain. If people perceive things distinctly and clearly, they cannot go wrong. God is an existing God and is not responsible for errors. But why do errors occur?
The philosopher is not satisfied with Godâ€™s creation. He knows and states that God is perfect. However, one thing remains unanswered. Why is this God creating inferior and imperfect beings like himself? Since he does not have a definite answer to this question and finding the solution to this puzzle is not easy, he decides not to search about this anymore (Southwell 32). He decides to look at what God has created as a whole in the hope of finding perfection. Although he considers himself an imperfect being, he realizes that there are a lot of things he can do perfectly and make him a perfect being.
Although Descartes states that God does not participate in nothingness, He is a supreme and does not deceive; the philosopher perceives human as having finite being. Since they lack infinite being, there is a high possibility they are participating in nothingness (Southwell 33). However, even if Descartes fails to understand why God created people with infinite being it is always known that God will always work in mysterious ways. If we are seen as imperfect creation, we human just represent a tiny percentage of the whole of Godâ€™s whole creation. We only have to follow the principles God has set out, instead of blaming our limited intellect.
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