Philosophy 1 Lecture Day 14
Descartes’s Meditations on first Philosophy
• Modern philosophy started in 17 century
• Descartes considered to be the father of modern philosophy
• He developed a mathematically based philosophy of nature
• He tried to protect it against the Catholic Church and said it would actually promote it.
• He wrote a book called the World but didn’t publish because of what happened to Galileo
• He designed a universal method for discovering the truth called Rules for the Direction of
• It most requires:
1. Break down to simplest components
2. Understand the components fully through a clear intuition of them
3. Reassemble them so the whole can be fully understood.
• He wanted to give an account of physical reality according to which it is best understood
mathematical, to separate the soul from the body which would allow for immortality, and
to prove the existence of God and in turn to appeal to God’s properties in support of
mathematical natural science.
• He had to defend the theory of Knowledge (epistemology)
• His theory is rationalist:
1. The role of the senses is only to provide practically useful information.
2. Reason is the basis of our knowledge of metaphysical truths as well as of the
mathematical structure of nature.
• People are in the grip of prejudices which they are acquired in their youth.
• Pre judgments are derived from sensory experience
• The most general one is that physical objects are as they appear to the senses to be.
• He wanted to overthrow his natural prejudgments and establish metaphysics and natural
science on a new basis.
• Opinions about small or distant objects formed through sense perception are frequently in
1. Asquare tower looks round from a distance • Opinions about nearby things are dubious because dream states are confused with
• To have dreams, the images must be composed of more simple and universal
1. Corporeal nature in general
2. The extension of corporeal things (dimensionality)
3. The shape of extended corporeal things
4. The size of