Descartes Argument Against Sense Perception

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Descartes’s goal is to look for necessary truths by examining beliefs based off of our senses. To do this, he must prove that sense perception is not a trustworthy source of information, as well as anything that proves some uncertainty as well. For instance, Descartes states that, “if I am able to find in each one some reason to doubt, this will be enough to justify rejecting it”(Descartes 73). This shows Descartes’s belief that if there is some uncertainty in the conclusions which have been previouslymaade, they made must be thrown out. Descartes begins his first argument against sense perception by claiming that senses can be deceptive, and that “it is wiser not to trust entirely to anything by which we have once been deveived”(Descartes …show more content…
Primarily, John Locke questions Descartes theory of innate ideas. Innate ideas, in Descartes eyes, cannot be learned by experience, but rather they are inbeded in everyone’s minds. These ideas include, God and mathamatics. When speakng about these ideas, Locke states, “But yet I take the liberty to say that these propositions are so far from having an universal assent, that there are a great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known”. Locke claimes that people are not born with these innate ideas, but instead people start off with a blank slate, and they form ideas from sense perception and from reflection upon those senses. Conseqently, Locke challenges Descartes ideas by saying that if people do have innate ideas, then all people should know them from the moment they are conceived. For instance, Locke gives the example of individuals who do not come into the world with these ideas by stating, “For first, it is evident that all children and idiots have not the least apprehension or thought of them”. Locke claims that when a child comes into a world they do not have these ideas such as God and mathamatics. They must be taught to the children as they grow older and form the mental capacity to understand these ideas. His other example is that people who are mentally disabled cannot understand these ideas fully or even at …show more content…
Mathematics is one of Descartes’s innate ideas and it is claimed to be because it does not rely on sense perceptions for it’s validity. However, if one cannot understand mathematics without the reference to a sense perceptions, then it does rely on sense perception after all. An individual must be able to see, feel, hear, smell, or taste different objects in order to differentiate that there can be multiple. Even though this pokes some holes in Descartes theory, he would still have a response. Descartes would believe that since being aware of one’s self is innate, then the idea of one is placed in everyone’s mind; this includes the individual without sense perception. From there, the mind can reflect and infer of notions that if one, then others. Mathematics would in fact be innate. Although this argument does not clearly expose Descartes’s argument to be incorrect, it does cause some uncertainty to whether the mind has the idea of mathematics innately at all. And it if so, this would effect all of his arguments against sense perceptions. According to Descartes, he previously states that he reject any principle that has some uncertainty. This argument gives uncertainty to the argument of mathematics, and therefore disqualifies it from being an innate

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