Bree Hohnbaum April 22, 2010 Philosophy 101 Descartes’ Theory of Knowledge Descartes had very many things to say

about knowledge. One thing that he pointed out is that what cannot have any doubt at all, must be true or knowledgeable. This was much different than the other philosophers that we have studied and thought that what was doubted was thought to not have any knowledge about the topic or item of choice. This can also be referred to as indubitability. This is what he has based his whole theory on, in a whole. Towards the end of the first meditation of Descartes, he came to the conclusion that he was certain that he was thinking, therefore, thinking is true, and that he as a thinker is true or certain. I thought it to be an odd sort of concept, which he believed in a god, or a higher power, because he cannot ever have knowledge enough about him or them enough to understand it. This is why he believes that there was still a creator. This is where most of his errors come in. His theory is true up until this point of the argument, but then some errors come into play and, like with all of the other philosophers we have studied, makes his theory not true or not believable enough for us, even now, as we are goring and learning, are coming up with more errors to all of these philosophers’ theories, but we must keep in mind that these were all made up thousands of years ago, thus must come with flaws. This is where the idea of skepticism comes into play with Descartes theory about the world and how to obtain knowledge. Skepticism in itself, the definition(s) are: 1 : an

attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object 2 a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics 3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation). This shows us that one must have to be skeptic about this idea. Knowledge is not possible the way that Descartes first thought it to be. One cannot be certain on any one thing, except the idea of thinking and the thinker himself. This is why the theory is flawed. One must acquire clear and distinct ideas about something in order to obtain knowledge. One could say you could base what one believes to be true simply on the senses, but this is also flawed. If one must have clear, absolute certainty on one certain thing, this has no room for growth in the middle and thus, there can be no supporting evidence to the item in question. Also, this idea about clear and distinct ideas only being the ones that are true, is also a conflict because one cannot re-learn, let’s say, everything they were once taught and then try and go with just Descartes theory with which to base everything one knows off of, then nothing, in turn, would ever really be true. This reminds me of one of the first days we had in class, where the teacher had asked, “Is this chair and desk really real or is it just there because we believe it to be there?” This is the basic idea of what Descartes is trying to find out and he only wants to be absolutely certain that something, in itself, is really real.

In Descartes argument for the existence of god, he goes on to explain why he believes that god must truly exist. Most of the cases may be true, but he thinks that since there is no one who is perfect, god must exist because he is perfect. Also, he believes that something cannot arise from nothing and this proves god to be true as well. He also thinks that when we have doubt, it is the evil in us that is doing this and this makes god out to be true as well. I do not see the reasoning that Descartes is trying to use here, maybe because I don’t believe in god, or maybe it’s from something else. But there is also a problem in this because he is basically going back on what he had stated previously. He is being a hypocrite so to speak in this sense because he is justifying that human doubt is true and that we need to have it. This created more problems in itself than it solves. Then he goes on to talk about how we can use some senses to determine whether something is real and true or not. His final ending to the whole theory I do agree with as opposed to his original idea that nothing one can doubt is true. Everyone has to have doubts about things, and this is how we all obtain the knowledge that we have today. No one knows all the answers to life. I think that this theory that Descartes started us off with is a goof foundation to some of the later theories that have arisen in today’s world. He was the one who made us double think at doubt and the essential properties that are needed to work with. The essential properties he did give us that are the primary qualities and the secondary qualities and the secondary qualities depend on the person. All in all, to obtain knowledge one must use some sort of their senses to figure out what things are, and Descartes realized this in depth through his whole theory.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer: Get 4 months of Scribd and The New York Times for just $1.87 per week!

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times