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Alden Farrar PAR 101-002 Dr.

White October 9, 2010 Descartes Quest In 1641, Ren Descartes sought to deny and doubt all of his previous knowledge through his Meditations On First Philosophy. His goal was to start fresh by constructing a new set of beliefs and only believing those affirmations that he deemed infallibly true. To achieve this, Descartes relied solely on individual insight and mental reasoning. This approach can be extremely valuable but I feel Descartes assumptions and arguments were somewhat lacking even though he is an extremely influential philosophical figure. I think of Descartes as a pioneer for his time period. He went about the question of knowledge in an extremely rational way considering the lack of reliability of even the most prominent scholars of the time. In addition, he effectively helped to redefine Rationalism and promote the importance of the individual during the enlightenment. Overall, I think of the meditations as an extremely intelligent endeavor that had an important impact on philosophy as a whole. As far as the content of the meditations however, Descartes comes across as unbalanced and even contradictory at times. He starts out strong and sensible in mediations one and two in which he determines that I exist and I am a thinking thing. The third meditation is where I begin to find issue though. Descartes states that he has an inherent idea of god but this is in fact false. His idea of God, or the maximally perfect being, comes directly from his schooling and his upbringing. These are the very things

that Descartes seeks to deny. To base his argument for the existence of God off of this seems to be a poor place to start. In addition, Descartes argument for the existence of God seems much less valid when coupled with the theory of evolution. Although Descartes was alive well before Darwin, it still makes me question the accuracy of Descartes assumptions on knowledge. I label Descartes as unbalanced because it seems as though his strong faith in his own religion of Christianity sways his judgment when he attempts to rebuild his foundation of knowledge. I think he went about his project with an intention to prove Gods existence instead of an unbiased more balanced approach that is open to whatever truths are discovered. Had he stuck to his goals of rejecting all his previous teachings I would have found his arguments much more credible. Regardless of his shortcomings, I still think Descartes had a brilliant approach to his acquisition of knowledge. Since reading his meditations, I have begun to question knowledge I took for granted and simply assumed to be true. If nothing else, Descartes project can help people learn much about themselves and what they truly believe in, as opposed to just accepting everything that has been taught to them and universally accepted. I would encourage any person to doubt the very things that seem so obvious and to attempt to construct a new base of knowledge that is true in the most absolute sense of the word with no loopholes or doubt, just as Descartes did.