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Descartes

Rene Descartes, 1596 - 1650

For many, the first thing to come to mind at the mention of Rene Descartes is the famous quote, "Cogito ergo sum", or in English, "I think, therefore I am". While this fundamental truth is exceedingly important in itself, it also represents a change in focus from questioning what the true state of the world is to what you as an individual can be certain of that bespoke a huge shift in Christianity in the medieval times. All this, Prior to Descartes’ ideas in philosophy, thinkers had chiefly looked to uncover what reality is for everyone under the implication that there exists a creator or creators who set this objective truth for us to uncover. Descartes’ new focus on critically determining what a person can be certain of puts humanity in the role of the one who decides what is true rather than any creator god. Unfortunately, Descartes held off publishing much of his work on the subject after hearing of Galileo’s fate, but the extracts, published as the famous introduction Discourse on the Method (Discours de la Métode) and 3 essays, including Geometry (La Géométrie) which was to forge his legacy in mathematics. Descartes’ Discourse changed the face of philosophy, bringing a more mathematical line of thought into philosophical arguments via four carefully-outlined rules of philosophical investigation and numerous applications of them. The entire work was published later, as well as Principles of Philosophy and Meditations on First Philosophy, the latter of which is still in wide use for university philosophy courses today.

The implications of Descartes’ works range far and wide and have done a great deal toward unifying the natural sciences, and some social science too. And all this, it is reported, came to him in a vision at the age of twenty-three when he shut himself in a stove room to fend off the cold (Caroll, 2004).

 

References:

Caroll, Bradley W. "Descartes' Dream." Weber University Physics. Weber University, 26 Mar. 2004. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.

Cartesian Method and Deity

How does Rene Descartes go about trying to decide what he (and therefore we) can know for certain? Descartes admits that he cannot be sure that God is not playing some sort of trick on him. So because he believes that God is good, he knows that God would not deliberately deceive him?

Descartes in Basic Terms

In the Meditations, Descartes entertains an extreme form of skepticism with his 'evil genius hypothesis'. What is this hypothesis and why does he even entertain its possibility? Though this hypothesis leaves much room for doubt, there is one thing that Descartes feels that he knows for sure. What is this? And what makes him so c

Problems of Philosophy - Rene Descartes Meditations 1, 2 & 6.

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Cogito argument

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The role of the demon argument in the First Meditation

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Descartes

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Descartes: notes

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I think therefore I am - Descartes

Please explain the bumper sticker "I bitch, therefore I am." Compare it to the philosophy of Descartes' "I think, therefore I am." How are they different? Why is it easier for women to answer this question than men? Descartes was searching for something that would validate his existence. He needed something to hang on to tha

Rene Descartes Philosophy on Being/Cogitatio

Descartes is careful to explain the "Cogito," or "I think, therefore, I am," and exactly what is meant by this claim. He discusses if he can be sure about being awake versus being asleep. Descartes thinks that he can be sure. What do you think? [Reference your book and make an argument (making an argument is important).] T

Descartes Meditation 2 the wax example

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Descartes: refutation of skepticsm

Why does Descartes think that to philosophize is to refute skepticism"? The short answer is that Descartes thinks knowledge is possible. Skepticism denies that knowledge is possible. Descartes' methodical doubt in the Meditations, is a method or a means by which he gains certainty, not the conclusion of his inquiry.

Descartes' 2nd Meditation is assessed.

There is a phrase in Descartes 2nd Meditation ... "this I whom I know" can you explain to me in what way sensation is involved in this phrase? Thank you for your time.

Descartes

If anyone understands Descartes I could sure use some help....I'm struggling with the 4th Meditation...and wondering why the "error" and the fact that it exists seems such a big problem for Descartes...if anyone could answer this I'd be most grateful. Thank you for your time.

3rd Meditation by Descartes is highlighted.

Hello: Can someone who really knows & understands Descartes help me? He's tough for me to understand! Question: Why does he (Descartes) need to prove the existence of God in the 3rd Meditation...and what purpose do you think it serves the structure of the Meditation?

Descartes - First Meditation re skeptical doubts

HELP! I have just read the First Meditation where Descartes talks about the possibility that we are all dreaming....this stuff is soooooooo confusing! Even supposing that I might be dreaming, what sorts of truths are not doubtful? If anyone is good at this kinda stuff could you explain it to someone like me who is totally conf