First Philosophy Assignment.docx

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
PHIL 100
Peter Graham

Jaclyn Rini TA: Ali Jawin Philosophy 100 First Assignment Imagine feeling betrayed by your best friend. Now imagine feeling betrayed by your own beliefs. Your own beliefs deceiving you! If you can imagine such a feeling, then you can put yourself in Descartes shoes the day he decided to start composing the first Meditation. His desire for certainty is what ultimately motivated him to become engaged in such an elaborate project. He wanted to never again fall into the trap of believing anything false. That being said, the fire was lite, and his determination had skyrocketed. He then had to start from complete scratch. First, Descartes had to tear down his “doubtful structure of beliefs.” This step being the first order of business gives Descartes a clean slate to work with. Ensuring he is not duped into believing anything false, he must also refrain from believing anything for which he can find even the slightest bit of doubt. In order to achieve his goal of certainty, Descartes must adopt the most cautious method possible, known as methodological skepticism. This method aims to focus on Descartes skeptical inquiries at the basic principles on which all his other beliefs rest. An important part of our world is sense perception, which is where Descartes begins his arguments by attacking the principle of the reliability of our senses through The Dreaming Argument. How does one know that they are not just dreaming, for dreams sometimes do in fact feel like real life? This type of doubt is what leads Descartes to have to argue against the reality we feel through dreams. Acting as a response to The Dreaming Argument, comes The Evil Demon Argument, which alludes to, a theory that there is figure higher up that is deceiving all those underneath. However, The Evil Devil Argument takes a turn when it is proven unsound, for no one can deceive you into thinking you don’t exist because you would need to exist in the first place to have beliefs. Ah-HAH! “ I think, therefore I am!” In Mediation 2, Descartes has reached his first discovery that he has the ability to think. By establishing that he thinks, Descartes verifies the certainty of his own existence. Descartes would need to have the thought that he was being deceived by an evil demon and even if he is being deceived by everything possible, he undoubtedly thinks about being deceived. Therefore, he claims he is in fact certain he is a “thinking thing.” From this point, Descartes is then able to branch further out into determining the kind of thing he is. Descartes is aware that he is a thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wants, refuses and also imagines. He is validating this kind of thinking with perpetual experience. Although Descartes cannot be certain that he actually perceives things in the world around him, he can only be certain that he seems to perceive things. Desc
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