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Lecture 3

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Daniel Kofman

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Sept. 12, 2013 Descartes II – Beyond Doubt: the Reconstruction of Knowledge  Descartes’ three stages of doubt: perception (local), dream (general), demon (general ‘hyperbolic’)  I should suspend all information that I perceive through my sense because they’re deceived me before, and therefore, are dubitable  Demon = Evil Genius (has God-like powers which he uses to deceive me) 1. Descartes’ proof of the physical world 1. a) Beyond doubt I: Dream skepticism, experiential coherence (end of M6) 1. b) Beyond doubt II: passivity of ideas plus divine benevolence (and again coherence) M6 o I exist at least as a thinking thing -that’s one belief which can withstand the inception of the Evil Genius o This is my Necessary Truth – indubitable starting point o 2 proofs of God – the very fact that I have an idea of God – the cause of the idea has to be adequate to what it is – omnibenevolent and must exist to be perfect. o If I have an idea of perfection, it must exist. That existence is God. o He’s proved his existence, he’s proved God’s existence, what about my beliefs? o Passivity of ideas: my ideas are caused by sensations. The only way to avoid sensation is to block my senses, otherwise I cannot avoid perceiving. o Divine Benevolence: God would not deceive me – he has given me knowledge to avoid error 2. Descartes’ legacy: Foundationalism, rationalism, infallibilism 3. A) Problem 1: tension in application of the standard: certainty is required to restore trust in general reliability of senses, and b
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