Rene Descartes Cogito Analysis

Powerful Essays
In his Meditations on First Philosophy, French philosopher René Descartes proposes the concept of the cogito as an incontrovertible basis for his metaphysical system. This essay will explain the nature of Descartes’s cogito, assess his argument for the concept and its implications, and evaluate its merit as the “one thing, however slight, that is certain and unshakeable” he so desired. This essay will begin with an explanation of the principle of cogito ergo sum and a gloss of Descartes’s argument for its veracity. The essay will then examine the cogito’s implications with regards to what it dictates about the nature of one’s existence, and what it can and cannot determine about that existence. This paper will then conclude with an evaluation…show more content…
The cogito is, in the simplest terms, a formal name for the oft-quoted “I think, therefore I am” concept first proposed by Descartes. More substantially, it is the result of Descartes’s thorough process of methodical doubt – the “general demolition of [his] opinions”, as he himself puts it – through which he puts his preconceived notions of existence, importantly including the assumption that one’s senses are fundamentally reliable. Hence, at the beginning of his Second Meditation, he is left with no footholds from which to spring forth and create a true philosophical system. It is this very state of total, ultimate doubt from which Descartes comes to an epiphany: his elucidation of the cogito. The cogito is the concept that one’s ability to doubt, and to think in general, ipso facto proves that one must exist. Descartes comes to this realization from his state of total doubt after a final effort to locate an incontrovertible truth, asking firstly whether there is a God or other all-powerful being implanting his doubts. This line of thinking leads Descartes to question who truly conceives of his thoughts and doubts, then to question whether one necessarily cannot exist without a physical body (a concept he had
Get Access