Rene Descartes Meditation Summary

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MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY
René Descartes

Meditation I. Of The Things Of Which We May Doubt.

QUESTION 1. What was Descartes’ reason for writing his “Meditations”?

People hold many erroneous beliefs and accept them without doubts. In his Meditations on First Philosophy Descartes, who does not want deceived, writes “I was convinced of the necessity [...] to rid myself of all the opinions I had adopted” to build a new solid foundation of beliefs that he could be certain of, so as not to build up his entire existence on entirely false premises.

QUESTION 2. What prevents us from trusting our senses?

We receive most of our information about the world through senses and consider it to be mostly reliable. However, our senses often fail us and thus do not deserve absolute confidence. Descartes, acknowledging this, decided to “suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us.”

Descartes goes on: “I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep.” Since “there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep”, we sometimes have the experience of sleeping, while think that we are awake.

QUESTION 3. Being misled by senses and dreaming are temporary states, but can we be certain that we are not being constantly deceived?

God is supposed to be supremely and inherently good. However, if this is the case, “it would seem … to be
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