Descartes Evil Demon Argument Analysis

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In the first two of Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes builds skepticism and then begins to dispel it. In the first, Descartes calls into mind three possibilities to prove our inability to trust our senses and what we fundamentally believe to be true. Descartes’ main refutation of this skepticism is known as the Cogito. The Cogito claims that since Descartes’ thinks, he must at a minimum exist as a thinking thing. In the remainder of Meditations, the Cogito serves as the fundamental premise for Descartes’ proofs for the existence of God and of body. I contend that as it is in Meditations, the Cogito is easily refuted. I argue that Descartes’ response to Mersenne alleviates most of these refutations, as his response shifts the Cogito from a classical syllogism to a self-evident intuition. Finally, I argue that this shifts the…show more content…
To Descartes, the Evil Demon is a powerful being that can control everything we perceive (Cahn 534). If there is an Evil Demon, then we cannot trust anything (Cahn 534). Everything we sense may be altered or even entirely created by the Evil Demon (Cahn 535). Even fundamental arithmetic cannot be trusted as the Evil Demon may make it unreliable (Cahn 535). The Evil Demon can alter thoughts to the point where even they cannot be relied upon (Cahn 535). To Descartes, this is the strongest argument for skepticism. For this reason, from now on, I will focus on how the Cogito relates to this skeptical argument. Descartes needs a foundation to progress his argument in the rest of the Meditations in order to prove the existence of God, and of Body. From now on, we will assume that Descartes successful proved that our senses, our body, and anything that we believe to be true is not reliable. If we cannot rely upon anything, then there are no premises to use to prove anything. Descartes goal is to find a response to the doubt cast in the First

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