Class Notes (807,350)
Canada (492,715)
Philosophy (337)
PHIL 111 (64)
Jon Miller (39)

PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 15.docx

5 Pages
Unlock Document

Queen's University
PHIL 111
Jon Miller

January 21, 2014 Recalling - Descartes is convinced of the need for certain knowledge. In the Meditations, he seeks to discover it - First, he examines his existing beliefs or opinions. Any which are false or even open to the slightest degree of doubt will be cast aside o He writes, “Reason now leads me to think that I should hold back my assent from opinions which are not completely certain and indubitable just as carefully as I do from those which are patently false” (Bailey, 144rc) - Rather than examine his beliefs one by one, Descartes places them into groups. If the group as a whole is subject to doubt, then each individual member must be too. All will be cast aside as incompatible with his quest for certainty - He presented a battery of arguments, each of which is intended to show that a whole group of beliefs is possibly false - He concludes by supposing that an evil demon has misled him on all his beliefs A Clarifying Remark - The doubt of Meditation One has been called “hyperbolic doubt”. This means it is extreme and not intended to be realistic. In particular, it is to be used for theoretical purposes only. As Descartes wrote to one of his critics, o “I said… that we may doubt all those things which we have not yet perceived with sufficient clarity… I said this because at that point I was dealing merely with the kind of extreme doubt which… is metaphysical and exaggerated and in no way to be transferred to be practical life” The Archimedean Point - Throughout Meditation Two, Descartes probes the extent of his knowledge, even while he is subject to radical doubt. What can he know for certain to be true, the demon notwithstanding? o “I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world… Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me… let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think I am something… I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me” (Bailey, 147lc) - The first thing that he knows for certain is that he must exist. Why? For he doubts - Once he knows that he must exist, he begins to explore his nature. What is he? Answer: a thinking thing o As he writes, “At last I have discovered it [his true nature] - thought; this alone is inseparable from me. I am, I exist - that is certain. But for how long? For as long as I am thinking (147rc) - So he is essentially a thinking thing. Next he asks, “What is that?” The answer: “A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, is willing, is unwilling, and also imagines and has sensory perceptions” (148rc) - So even on the hypothesis that an evil demon is consistently deceiving him, Descartes can be certain that he exists and he exists as a thinking being. Is that all he can be certain of? The Wax Example - Descartes says, “Let us consider the things which people commonly think they understand most distinctly of all; that is, the bodies which we touch and see. I do not mean bodies in general… but one particular body. Let us take, for example, this piece of wax (149lc) - Descartes writes, “Let us concentrate, take away everything which does not belong to the wax, and see what is left” - There are two key goals of the wax example: o To display or teach the reader about the concept of body o To display or teach the reader about how it is that one forms knowledge of a body - On the concept of body: o Because the various features that our sensory engagement with the wax lead us to attribute to it- colour, shape size, hardness, coldness, etc. – can be lost by the wax while remaining “the same wax”, Descartes concludes that none of these properties are essential to it o Once colour, shape, size, hardness, coldness, etc. are removed, what remains are the wax’s essential properties: extensionality, flexibility and changeability  Once you take away what our senses tell us, the candle is only truly an
More Less

Related notes for PHIL 111

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.