Descartes Essay, Research Paper
Everyday we are bombarded with various forms of stimuli. We see many people, we hear cars drive by, we feel the cool breeze, etc, but how can we prove that we are really experiencing these stimuli? That is the question that Rene Descartes asked some three hundred fifty years ago, is there anything real in this world? Descartes concluded that at least his mind existed because he was thinking, which led to him saying ?Cogito ergo sum? which means I think therefore I am. In this essay I will briefly discuss Descartes? theory, and discuss alternative opinions to his theory.
Around 1641 Descartes convinced himself that nothing really existed ?no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies,? (Hospers 71) so would this make him nonexistent? No it wouldn?t because he doubts and how can there be doubt if there isn?t anybody to do the doubting. Now that he proved that the mind existed then he could doubt everything else, such as what we saw, heard, tasted, felt, and smelled. Descartes supposed that there was a demon that was spending all of its time deceiving him and everyone else. The demon would plant illusions in his and everybody?s head to make us believe that we are seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, and smelling, it may even be deceiving us into thinking that we have a body. But ?he can?t deceive me into believing that I exist when I don?t for there must be a ?me? to be deceived. But perhaps he deceives me about everything else.? (Hospers 72)
One of the most frustrating things about Descartes? theory is that there is no true way to find out if one is being deceived. In the movie The Matrix everyone was walking around in a world that was completely manufactured by super intelligent robots. The only thing that was real was everyone?s mind That movie agrees with Descartes and says at least the mind exist.
Descartes seemed to have a perverse faith to believe a demon is the root of all of the false perception. If only our mind existed then where is our mind? If we are living in a fake reality our minds could be sitting in a tank somewhere or something to that effect. If that were the case then we wouldn?t have to look to a demon for our perception fallacies, our own mind could be the root of our false reality. If Descartes believed that a demon was the culprit then how fantastical could it be to think that we are creating this ourselves. If our world is fake then one could guess that our mind dwells in a place that is for lack of a better word boring, because there isn?t anything to stimulate it like music, art, food, etc, so the mind would be forced to make it up. That may explain the difference in perception among people, or even how some may come in conflict with others.
Another theory is that everyone is part if one big mind, we are all created by a huge mind, almost like a book, and we are the characters. Descartes? ?demon? could also be part of this theory as the ?writer? of this so-called book we call life. We have no mind we are just pawns moving as the ?writer? sees fit, if we were to doubt it would be a result of us just following the script, so a mind would not be necessary, in such circumstances. This adds to the frustration because it is impossible to truly prove any of these theories, there are little things that are seem proven, but are only on a philosophical basis.
There is the off chance that we are all being paranoid and everything is real, there is no problem with everything being real. We can really be smelling the flowers, tasting the foods, seeing a play, touching that table, and hearing that song. Why is that so far fetched why can?t they exist, Descartes would say that I was being deceived still yet again. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then why does it have to be a deception, it was a lot easier being a duck. I feel that Descartes was complicating matters by questioning the existence of everything, because if only one?s mind exists then one is inclined to wonder where does this mind exist if we are living in this false reality. Descartes felt that we were being deceived, but how can we be deceived if we can?t prove that we are being deceived, if you told me that you won the lottery of ?25million then I would be able to find out that I was being deceived, but if there is no way that we can find out that we living in a land of deception. Then in essence the deception would become real, for example if I could never find out that you were deceiving me in regards to you winning the lottery then as far as I?m concerned it might as well be true. Descartes would argue that the deceptions of the demon are perfect because he is deceiving through all of the senses and his deceptions can?t be detected. So this makes it senseless to dispute the truth in the world because you can?t unplug yourself from the world to see if there is a demon deceiving everybody.
Not questioning what is taken as common knowledge has been the bane of man for countless centuries, because with every question new light is shed on reality and new understanding is created. But Descartes questioned the unquestionable there is exactly no true way to tell what is real and what isn?t, but he felt that he could. I feel that he did the equivalent of taking the cowards way out by presenting a topic that can?t be proven or disproved so no matter what stance he takes he can?t be called wrong just disputed.
Hospers, John An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis
Routledge London (1997)
Daily, C Descartes Cogito Ergo Sum
Houghton Mifflin Chicago (1996)