Descartes Meditations: Meditation I:
1. Explain what Descartes means by the need to “raze everything to the ground and
begin again from the original foundations” (p.17).
• He needs to start from the bottom due to the numerous opinions he has formed
and built subsequent falsehoods.
• He must start from the beginning because he does not need to prove all
opinions are false, only the building blocks they are based on
• Shaky foundation for belief built upon
2. Why does the possibility of dreaming introduce doubt into Descartes’mind?
• It introduces doubt because it can persuade the mind of many things
• Also he sees that there are no definitive signs to distinguish between being
awake and asleep
3. What does Descartes think must be true regardless of whether one is dreaming or
• General things must be true no matter what because what make up a dream
must come from real things such as eyes, head, hands, or even colors
• Gives the example of painters using real things in mixtures to make absurd
4. Why does the possibility of an “evil genius, supremely powerful and clever”
introduce an even more problematic cause for doubt in Descartes’mind?
• Because it leads to one being constantly deliberately deceived
• Believing that all external things are hoaxes of ones’dreams
• Not able to know anything is true but can still prevent one from using
ascending from falsehoods.
• Descartes 1596-1650
• Found foundation of science in flash
• Dangerous time to write and publish things about science
• Lived in hiding so people couldn’t find him
• 1633 hears about Galileo’s trial and becomes nervous but publishes anyways
• In preface tells if people have questions or want to no more, to contact him and talk