Michael Daniel 9-10-2006 Sober, pg.

158 – 171 “Descartes’s Foundationalism” Thesis: Descartes was not able to refute the skeptics argument. Some call Descartes the father of modern philosophy. He refuted skepticism using foundationalism to show that our beliefs about the world are examples of genuine knowledge. In foundationalism the idea is to create a foundation of indubitable concepts and then prove concepts that are less obviously true using that foundation of indubitable concepts. Euclid did the same thing with axioms (foundations) and theorems (concepts proven using the axioms). In order to create a foundation Descartes does not examine each individual belief he has. He examines kinds of beliefs. In other words, he puts beliefs into categories and considers the categories separately. A belief is foundational (indubitable) if it can not be doubted. If it can be doubted it is not foundational (dubitable). Descartes does not trust his senses or mathematics; therefore all arguments that use the senses or mathematics are not foundational. His first foundational belief is that, “I am thinking”, because there is no argument that can refute it. His second foundational belief is that, “I exist”, because if he didn’t exist then he could not be thinking. Based on these foundations, Descartes shows that declarations in the first person are usually true. “There is a page in front of me” is dubitable. “I seem to see a page in front of me” is indubitable. The first person argument assumes that we have perfect access to our desires and thoughts. Sigmund Freud, among others, refuted this. Sober seems to believe in Freud more than Descartes. He tries to argue that there is a difference between having a belief

and that belief being true. He then attempts to show that first person beliefs do not translate into beliefs about the world. Sober argues that “I believe that there is a page in front of me” does not prove that “There is a page in front of me”. Descartes proves that God exists by stating that his idea of God is an idea of a perfect being and that there must be at least as much perfection in the cause as there is in the effect. Therefore, God exists and is no deceiver. Because of this we can trust our senses. Descartes then proposes that clear and distinct beliefs must be true. In other words, beliefs that are from observation and reasoning used the way that God intended. Sober argues that the clarity and distinctness criterion creates a circular argument because he says that Descartes used clarity and distinctness to justify God and then used God to justify clarity and distinctness. Because the argument is circular, Descartes failed to refute the skeptic. Opinion: Sober annoys me. He doesn’t fully argue most of his points. He usually just brings up an opinion, says things like ‘sensible’ and ‘common sense’ and hopes that everybody knows what he’s talking about and that nobody will question him. Being an atheist, I personally don’t care for Descartes’s belief in God but given the choice between Descartes and Sober I prefer Descartes. Descartes may have problems but at least he’s not intellectually lazy in the way that Sober is. When I call Sober lazy I mean that he paraphrases too much, rarely cites anything precisely and shies away from creating arguments. I believe: 1.) I exist. 2.) I think. 3.) My thoughts came from some cause. 4.) That cause is reality. Therefore: Everything I conceive is real because my conceptions came from reality.