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What Was Descartes's Purpose for Undertaking the Meditations? What Basic or Common-Sense Things Did He Doubt?

Autor:   •  November 7, 2018  •  2,278 Words (10 Pages)  •  45 Views

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meditations? What basic or common-sense things did he doubt? (cite at least three)

According to his first meditation, Descartes recognizes that, in the past, he has accepted many false opinions to be true. Descartes recognizes that he is doubtful and uncertain of the things that he currently knows. He also mentions that he desires to have firm and constant knowledge in the sciences. Therefore, he decides to meditate by setting aside all previously accepted opinions and start from the beginning. He wants to build up knowledge from foundations that he can truly be sure of.

At first, Descartes doubts his basic senses and his body – eyes, hands, and head. He believes that senses can occasionally deceive in relation to things very miniscule or very far away. He also doubts this because his “senses” misled him to believe in the illusions in his dreams. Afterwards, Descartes doubted things that he considers composite; he was more sure of the simple and universal concepts from which the composite things came from. Hence, he doubted some sciences, such as physics, astronomy, and medicine. However, he also started doubting simpler things after reasoning some more. He doubted everything around him – the existence of the earth, air, and sky – by thinking that God made humans to be mistaken of things or that there was an evil spirit deceiving him.

2. Why does Descartes conclude that the proposition "I am, I exist" must be true? Explain his reasoning concerning the evil spirit who deceives him.

Descartes first convinces himself that there is nothing certain in this world, even his own senses or body. He then questions if his existence would depend on his body and senses. He also questions if the non-existence of the physical world would mean that he himself does not exist. Afterwards, he recognizes the possibility of powerful and tricky deceiver who aims to make him perpetually deceived. Consequently, Descartes recognizes that he himself exists. He reasons that, even if he lets the deceiver deceive him, it is impossible for the deceiver to make him nothing (not exist) as long as he thinks that he is something (existing). The deceiver cannot deceive something that does not exist. He then concludes: “I am, I exist” and it is confirmed each time he thinks of this.

3. Why is the nature of the human mind better known than the body? Discuss Descartes’s arguments and examples.

Descartes explains that he is sure that he exists because he is thinking, which refers to the nature of the mind. Yet, he is not sure what is the nature of the bodily nature of the “I” that is thinking. He recalls in what he believed in before meditating. He believed that he was a “man” and that the “body” was a mechanism which composed of bone and flesh. The body is something bounded by some figure, located in some place, and can be perceived by the senses – touch, sight, hearing, taste, or smell.

However, by recognizing his present hypothesis, Descartes recalls that there is a malicious spirit deceiving him. He then cannot be sure of the nature of the body as he cannot trust his senses. He takes note of the attributes of the soul and sees if any of them is in him. He finds that only the action of thinking of the mind is inseparable from his nature, in contrast to the bodily natures of nourishment and perception. Descartes notes that he is not a wind, a flame, a breath, or anything that he could imagine and picture himself to be. This is because he recognizes that the words “imagine” and “picture” could only pertain to dreams and illusions of the bodily entity. However, Descartes is sure that the power of perceiving and imagining is real and are forms of thinking, which is part of the nature of the human mind. Therefore, he knows more of the nature of the human mind because he doubts the nature of the body, which he refers to only as some thing that thinks.

4. Is there a character or characters in the movie "Memento" who are comparable to Descartes’s evil spirit, deceiving Leonard Shelby? Who are they and how did they deceive him? What, if anything, can Lenny ever be certain of?

Yes. There are characters from the movie who deceived Leonard. This is because Leonard has a condition, called anterograde amnesia. Leonard can then be certain that he is different from other people. Due to his condition, he can be certain only of things that happened in the few minutes that have recently passed, though he may forget them as time passes or he would be unable to relate them properly with other past events. He is also certain that he is unable to make new memories because of some incident relating to his wife. The following are the deceivers:

1. Teddy deceived Leonard in killing “John G”s. In the movie he used Leonard to kill a drug dealer named Jimmy Grantz in order to get $200,000.

2. Natalie deceived Leonard by making him go after a person named Dodd, who she claims has been harassing her for Jimmy’s drug money. She lied that she was beaten up by Dodd because of Leonard’s advice.

3. The innkeeper at the Discount Inn deceived Leonard by making him check-in and rent 2 rooms.

4. Leonard deceived himself by setting up his own clues and writings to kill Teddy, despite being told that the real John G is dead. He made the plate number of Teddy’s car as a “fact” of John G.

There are other things Leonard can be certain of. He can still be certain that he is living and alive - in a way that he is able to interact with his physical surroundings. He can also be sure that he exists and is a thinking being, similar to what Descartes had mentioned in the second meditation. He can also be certain that the words and phrases that he tattooed on his body or wrote on his pictures, relate to some kind of event which happened in the past, although his interpretation could be misaligned due to the lack of context.


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