In his book Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes states that it is possible to construct an indubitable foundation for all knowledge in the book. This book is organized in the form of meditations that are written as though each meditation is written on its day. Each meditation refers to the previous one as “yesterday”. These meditations consist of Descartes’ presentation mostly thorough philosophical systems. The entire book consists of six parts representing his six meditations. This paper mainly emphasis the first two meditations. Descartes destroys the notion that all knowledge comes from the senses and that mental states must always resemble what they are about. He develops an understanding of the mind, ideas, and importance among other exciting deals of ideas that are discussed in the modern western philosophy.
Descartes found himself to be mistaken regarding issues which, as he assumed, had been confirmed. He decides to destroy his last believes and rebuild his knowledge afresh, starting from the foundation and only take as the truth matters that are unquestionably guaranteed. He knows that all his previous thoughts originated from his intellect. Descartes starts to doubt almost everything in what he believed, and he blames his senses for this. After the long process of conflict within his mind, he decides to never trust his senses. He reached some point where he could not understand or trust what was going on, so he starts to think that he is either living in a dream, or his intellect was confused by some superior beings such as demons or gods. Therefore, he decides not to believe his logic concerning anything.
Nevertheless, he finally understands that things like his own existence are not to be distrusted. For him to be able to think and doubt, it requires that there was somebody to do the thinking and doubting. He realizes that he is something in existence with the ability to think. Furthermore, he explains that his discovery of these actualities is achieved by his mind, and his understanding is well known to him.
Descartes is confident of his existence, and without doubt, he has a distinctive and strong perception. He thinks about what other thing which he distinguishes while using this method. For him to be sure about this strong and distinctive perception that is indubitable, he needs to persuade himself to accept that God is real and existing. He also needs to convince himself that God cannot deceive him. Descartes think about the impression of God’s existence in his thoughts as made by God and not created by his mind, since God is more superior and perfect than him. A perfect thing like his mind could have only been created by a perfect being such as God. He becomes convinced that God exists. God is perfect; therefore, he cannot deceive him about anything. The doubt appears because his willpower passes sentence on issues that his limited intellect cannot comprehend undoubtedly. This is because he is not as perfect as God.
Having a thorough understanding of his distinct and clear perceptions given to him by the perfect God, he then explores quantifiable things. He observes that the main characteristic of a body is an extension and that the qualities of the physical body are breadth, shape, and size. He develops another evidence of God’s existence, for he discovers that a body is fundamentally extended. A non-existent God is as inconceivable as a body that is not fundamentally comprehensive. The norm of a body is an extension while the fundament of the mind is a thought. He concludes that the body and the mind are entirely distinct. He discovers that he can clearly perceive the primary quality of material things, but he has an obscure and confused perception of secondary qualities. This is because senses are meant to help a person learn the world and not to help them unravel the facts behind everything. Descartes argues that the mind and body are two distinct but essential things for knowledge and understanding of issues around humans in a day to day living. In the second meditation that is named “The Nature of the Human Mind, and How it is Better Known Than the Body”, he finds a concrete certainty after the radical one from his first meditation. He presents the broad picture of the world and knowledge. Here, the mind is described as something that can know itself better than anything in the world. How the mind can connect to reality, is a significant concern. In his conception, the mind stops being a tool to help people explore the world and becomes something in which people are locked.
As discussed in the second meditation, God is the source of all knowledge. God is responsible for everything that he has puts in place with his perfect nature, including the knowledge, mind, and thoughts in Descartes’ mind. He portrays God as an “unthinkable” being, yet he possesses sufficient knowledge to know him (God) and his existence. The idea of the unity of Gods perfection is not a logical conclusion and is simply a product of Descartes’ intellectual ability.
Descartes commits intentional fallacy by basing his argument on something that he “does not know”. In his reasoning, he states that he knows that he is a thing that thinks. His reasoning is expressed in such a way that shows him as not being sure whether he is a bodily thing despite the fact that he is certain about being “a thing that thinks”. He says the body and mind cannot be one and the same thing, because if that was the case, he would be sure about neither of them or both of them. Since he knows that he is a thing that thinks, he draws the conclusion that the brain and body are two distinct beings that together represent him and any other person as the human being.
The phrase “thing that thinks” has some ambiguity, as he uses the phrase to indicate a substance as in the fundamental and indivisible elements of Cartesian ontology where bodies (represent extended things) and minds represent thinking things. Descartes expresses the intellection and understanding that is a characteristic of Aristotelian mind conception. In the second meditation, he casts sensory perception, imagining, sensing, and willingness and includes them as the attributes of the mind.
On the replies to Descartes’ work, Descartes believes that people cannot comprehend the infinite but can understand it. In the sense that people distinctly and clearly understand things in such a way that there is no limit within it, that is infinite. He describes infinity as the absence of all limits and relates infinity to God. There is a difference between infinity as a concept and infinite things. This is because the absence of limits is only limited to a few attributes. One cannot fully comprehend or understand God, but one can have distinct and clear knowledge about him and his perfect nature.
In his proof of God’s existence, Descartes believes that God exists because he cannot understand some things that are beyond his mind’s ability. This means that God is that something that is greater than the human mind’s comprehension that cannot be understood which is not true in reality; in the modern world. According to Descartes, people with limited natural light cannot see that all the perfection that exists objectively in his idea must exist in reality in some cause of the idea. The mind that suggested the idea cannot exist in itself. He does not explain or demonstrate clearly why he believes that an idea cannot be conceived in a mind by itself. In today’s world, it is undoubted that a brain generates ideas independently.
The nature of minds allows one to create general proposition on the basis of the available knowledge about an object or idea in question. Desecrates says that “he thinks and, thus, he exists”, and this is not a notion from syllogism, but he recognizes it directly by a simple intuition of the mind. This is evident because if he was deducing it by a syllogism, he would have had to know the main premise, which is “whatever thinks exists”. Whereas he learns this truth from what he understands of self, he learns that it cannot be that he thinks unless he subsists. For such an idea, it is the nature of mind that forms general propositions on the basis of knowledge of things.
The idea of a Supreme Being does not necessarily mean that there are Supreme Beings. The idea could have developed within the mind. The mind possesses a degree of perfection and is capable of creating the idea of this perfect superior being. The whole God thing could have only existed in Descartes’ mind. The idea of God is entirely an intellectual entity having no more reality than having been created in the mind or from believes of other people. Descartes said that for one to be certain about anything, they have to belief that God exists. By the time when he concluded about being a thinking thing, Descartes had not accepted that God exists, and that was the reason why he was also not certain about him being a thinking thing.
The body and the mind are distinct; the mind thinks, and, thus, whatever can think is a mind. In today’s world, this is true. Descartes was, however, to some extent on the wrong way in saying that a body cannot think. It is clear that a mind exists within a body. Both the mind and the body together compose the human being and are not as separate as he describes. It is insufficient for anybody to describe two things that cannot exist or make sense without one another as being distinct. Today’s world has witnessed one and the same things exist and appear in various forms, modes, or places, and, thus, being mistaken for two distinct things.
It is not possible to have an indubitable source of all knowledge established. As one can see, Descartes was a brilliant being with a great deal of knowledge, not mentioning his brilliant mind. It should be noted, however, that he had shortcomings in his ideas and believes. Atheists may not believe in God, but they may know certainly that the summation of the angles in a triangle is equal to the summation of two right angles; this is an acknowledged statement in the world of mathematics. The atheists may argue that their disbelief in God as a perfect being may mean elimination of all other forms of good. It is evident that there exist many beings as well as many forms of good and evil.
Descartes says that God cannot deceive, but there are a few biblical texts that prove the contrary. For instance, God can deceive people for their own good, in a similar way that a father can do to his own children. A distinct and clear perception is no guarantee for certainty. In the modern world, one may see people in error about things or ideas that they believed in the same way that Descartes did.
Descartes believes that all knowledge depends on the knowledge of God. He made it clear that one cannot be certain about a thing unless he beliefs in Gods existence. The knowledge of principle is not scientific knowledge to logicians. An atheist may know for sure about the sum of angles in a triangle yet say that this knowledge is not true scientific knowledge. Since one is an atheist, they cannot be certain that they were not deceived even in things that appear to them to be extremely evident. Although, perhaps, this doubt has never occurred to them, it may do if they consider the matter or if someone suggests it to them that they will never be safe from it unless they first recognize the God.
It makes no difference if the atheist happens to think that he has demonstrations to prove that there is no God. For these are not all true, their faults can constantly be pinpointed to him; and when this is approved by others, it will make him refuse from his opinion. This will not be difficult to achieve. The only demonstration which he can put forward is to question how he knows that it belongs to nature of the infinite to exclude all other beings in this way. He can, thus, make no reply, because the word “infinite” does not refer to something that excludes the existence of finite things and because he can know nothing of the nature of what he thinks is non-existent. Therefore, he has no nature except that that consists in the bare meaning of the name, as understood by other people. Then, what would be produced by the infinite power of this imaginary finite being, if it could have ever created anything. In conclusion, it is not possible to establish an indubitable source for all knowledge although most of Descartes work makes sense.