Rene Descartes Wax Argument Analysis

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René Descartes’s interest in a piece of wax demonstrates his ideas about powers of the mind to comprehend through what the senses cannot recognise, as wax changes when melted so greatly yet is still regarded as the same wax. Images or examples can challenge this idea of sustained identity through change; such as a ship, larvae or the self. Descartes sought an indubitable idea to secure his foundations for finding certain knowledge. This idea relates to the mind or the self being the starting point for knowledge, leading to an investigation into its nature. As a rationalist, Descartes’s views clash with empiricist David Hume. Hume’s example of the self seems far truer and does not appeal to the conventional Western idea of Descartes’s self. This …show more content…

This established as the foundations upon which certain knowledge can be built. Doubting everything’s existence entails there is a doubter which must exist for the doubting to arise. If all that is usually known as true is a trick of an ‘evil genius’, there must be something existing that can be deceived, and this is what is using scepticism: the mind. To deny one’s own existence requires a contradiction of the mind as it is thinking, consequently it cannot think if it does not exist. This supposed incorrigible idea is dependent on the occurrent existence of thoughts. There is then an inquiry into the nature of the mind to find essential, innate qualities. The nature of the mind is that the mind is the substance and thought is the essence of it; ‘I am therefore precisely nothing but a thinking thing; that is, a mind, or intellect, or understanding, or reason’ (Descartes, 2006, 27). From this he makes the wax argument to say that the mind - now it’s existence has been established - is better known than the

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