Descartes Meditations Essay, Research Paper
Analyze in detail Descartes First Meditation and the beginning of the Second Meditation. Do you believe Montaigne could not reply to Descartes and therefore that Descartes has succeeded in defeating skepticism? Descartes First Meditation sought out to offer reasons to doubt everything in order to, after taking doubt into consideration, discover what we of what we believe is true. He begins his work by rejecting everything that he believes in, including his own existence. Everything that he has accepted so far in life was acquired through the use of his senses, which he believes sometimes mislead him. So from this point on in his work, he seeks out the truth through the use of reason with no help from his senses. Montaigne would agree that the senses can be deceitful but not because they are deceitful by nature, but because we have only five senses and that it would be irrational to believe that those are the only five senses that exist. By observing animals, one could sense that there might be other senses.Descartes believes that his body could be imaginary since he acquired knowledge of his body through his senses. He also rejects consciousness, saying that there is no difference between sleeping and being awake and cannot draw a line between the two because to do so, requires the use of those deceitful senses. However, the one idea he does not reject is his belief in God. “Nevertheless, I have long held a belief that there is a God who can do anything, by whom I have been created and made what I am. But how can I be sure but that he has brought it to pass that there is no earth, no sky, no extended bodies, no shape, no size, no place, and that nevertheless I have the impressions of all these things and cannot imagine that things might be other than as I now see them?” (Descartes 78).
This is where Descartes makes his mistake. Descartes seeks to reject every thought that he has and seek reason in determining the truth. However, he does not reject his belief in God. His belief in god is entirely based on faith, which is a totally irrational feeling. If his senses can be deceitful in the sense that he may not have any arms or legs or even a body at all, or that “there is no earth, no sky”, or nothing at all which is concrete, how can he believe that God truly exists? After all, belief in God arose as an explanation for phenomena perceived through the senses. Even when he tries to reject God, he does not reject the existence of a God, but he rejects the notion that God is innately good.In Descartes attempt to reject everything that he believed in order to find the truth, he did not stay true. He wished to reject all he held true so that he would not be persuaded to think one way or another but he failed to reject his most treasured of beliefs. Therefore, he did not defeat skepticism because he shirked on his method and in a sense, cheated himself by not rejecting all he said he would. Therefore, all the conclusions he made from rejecting some of what he said should not be considered with much weight.