Is Descartes' argument against trusting the senses a good one?
What appeals to you most, and what do you find odd?
I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible.
The way I read the assignment, it's really about Descartes' views on sense data.
It looks like it's about what appeals to us about his argument on the senses, rather than the entire Meditations.
I hope I'm right here.
First of all, what is Descartes trying to do?
The simple answer to that is to ground our knowledge in something that is solid and NOT open to doubt.
One thing that IS open to doubt is our senses.
Therefore, science (and knowledge in general) cannot come from the senses (or at least, sense data cannot be the primary source of our knowledge, but possible a secondary source of it).
What is the problem with our senses?
The simple answer is that they - of themselves - do not contain the ground of their own truth. In other words, we only "sense" things because our mind is capable of "capturing" them - or even perhaps, "creating" them. All we know is that we experience things, NOT that they exist.
The ground of truth must lie elsewhere.
How can I tell the difference between sense perceptions when I am dreaming versus when I'm awake? There is no way to distinguish.
Can God deceive us? I guess he has it in his power, and hence, if God is deceiving us, then again, our senses cannot be trusted.
God probably does not deceive us, but demons might. Hence, demons might create data that we "sense" that is, in fact, false.
(You can even use the "brain in a jar" argument that you saw in The Matrix movie - there is no proof that our senses pick up what is really "out there." All we know is that our mind presents us with things. Hence, all we know is what our minds "show" us - there is no good reason to believe that what our mind shows us is actually out there.)
Here's the thing: while it is conceivable that I am being deceived somehow about what is really "out there," one thing cannot be doubted: that there is an "I" that is, me, that is either being deceived or not.
We just stumbled upon the one thing that grounds ...
The expert examines René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy. What appealds to you most is determined.