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Rene Descartes

1. Descartes set forth a scientific method for understanding nature. Explain Descartes Method (his four steps). How does his method compare with today's understanding of the scientific method?
2. Explain Descartes' famous quote, the Cogito. How did he come to this conclusion?
3. Explain Descartes' Dualism of mind and body.
4. Do you agree with Descartes' dualism of mind and body? Why or why not?

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Descartes scientific method-the four steps according to Descartes: (this is a direct quote from the Discourse on Method:

The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

(This first idea is of course problematic, for determining what is clearly true is difficult!)

The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.

The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.

And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted."

So, in sum: begin with clear ideas, divide the problem into small parts and solve each problem separately, move from simple to more complex problems and to carefully record and review everything as you go.

Today's scientific method, according to Travis Binion:http://urantiabook.org/archive/science/binion1.htm. (I am not a fan of Urantia books, but this synopsis is pithy, ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides advice in tackling the questions listed above (see items 1 to 4) in relation to the work and philosophy of Rene Descartes, in particular his ideas on the mind, body and dualism.

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