Descartes Truth And Reality Analysis

Decent Essays
Something which can be difficult to distinguish when reading the Meditations is whether Descartes is talking about truth in its purest sense or reality. In the second meditation, he argues that when looking to establish truth we need to accept that we exist otherwise we cannot judge the truth in anything else. But this can be confusing as he is relating truth and reality and equalling them to each other. If Descartes here, is referring to the idea of reality he is arguing that for us to judge the reality of anything else, we must admit that through our ability to think for ourselves and rationalise, we must be real. However, if he is referring to truth, then he is using the truth of our own thoughts to rationalise the truth of all else. He …show more content…
truths regarding math etc. that did not require sensory experience could be attained by reason alone; other knowledge however, which required experience of the world alongside reason was doubtful. This knowledge could not be regarded as absolute as it required experiences which could not be trusted to be accurate. He added to this assertion by arguing that although dreams appear as real as waking experiences, these dreams cannot provide persons with knowledge, they can only draw from conscious sensory experiences. Also, since knowledge consciously derived from the senses can be the cause of illusions, then sense experience itself can be doubtable. He does not trust his senses as they can sometimes deceive us and as he says himself, “it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once” As a result, Descartes deduced that a correct pursuit of truth should doubt every belief about reality. Descartes developed a method to attain truths according to which nothing that cannot be recognised by the intellect can be classified as knowledge. These truths are gained without any sensory experience, according to Descartes. Truths that are attained by reason are to be broken down into elements which intuition can grasp, which, through a purely deductive process, will result in clear truths about reality. This is why he argued that a being who can think and rationalise for themselves must …show more content…
For example, something which we perceive with our eyes must be rationalised by our thoughts. His famous dictum, cogito ergo sum, is a conclusion reached as obvious and necessary, not inferred from experience. This was, for Descartes, an irrefutable principle upon which to ground all forms of other knowledge. For us to accept and understand “knowledge” we must first accept our own existence. The absoluteness of certainty required for something to be regarded as a truth suggests that it should be beyond any sliver of a doubt. Descartes’ search for truth begins on the premise of radical doubt. Which is to say that all we have been taught to believe is true is actually false. His searches for truth by eliminating falsehoods and radical doubt is a result of this. He explains this in his first meditation by likening our minds to a basket of apples. To get rid of the bad apples which have started to go off, it makes sense to first tip out all the apples from the basket and put them back one by one, after careful inspection to make sure they have no signs of rot. It makes more sense to reject all our pre-ordained “truths” wholesale to start off with so as to be assured of their truth when we have finished our inspection. In an effort to continue along this vein he also creates an image of a supreme trickster constantly trying to

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    There is an objection to Descartes argument that innate ideas can be unaware of. Descartes’ argues that one has to be skeptical of one’s sensory experiences. This is due to knowledge based on sensory perception is only based on the senses. He claims that we must not trust our senses, “But it is sometimes proved to me that these sense are deceptive, and it is wiser not to trust…

    • 1114 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However this goes the same for philosophical skeptics who cannot prove that the external world does not exist. Approaching this argument or proof deductively then puts us in a position of philosophical ambivalence, unable to conclude such a thing about an external world. But then if this is the case, we cannot progress forward intellectually and are stuck in an introspective loop of a doubtful or realistic world. It can then be said, as many skeptic philosophers believe the only known thing is the mind, that our mind is truthfully known to be so,…

    • 850 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The major and minor premise must coincide to yield a conclusion; this one of the rules that should always be applied when observing a syllogistic argument. One must use good reasoning when creating a logical statement. To look at the big picture, since logic deals with correct reasoning and since correctness of reasoning is closely related with truth and falsity, then when one reasons correctly, “if the premises of his/her argument are true, then it will be impossible for the conclusion to be false” (Popkin and Stroll, 243) because the statement is valid. Validity is the structure of an argument. Once the validity of an argument is established, one can acquire justified true belief.…

    • 1512 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The default belief is that there is a single reality in which knowledge exists, if a critic argues against this, he or she would be saying that there is knowledge for the contrary, which is contradictory: their claim defeats itself. For either side of the argument to be fruitful in efforts, one side would have to have objective knowledge. Disagreeing has never been a sign that there is no truth at all. For example, few doubt the existence of some overarching moral code; they may disagree on the specifics of that code without finding that as lack of any code at all. If there were no objective knowledge, there would be complete chaos; there are so many things in the grand scheme of life that are universally agreed upon.…

    • 1153 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Logical reasoning puts meaning into our beliefs. With logical reasoning, we can evaluate theories, principles, or rules that can give us reasons to determine right from wrong. Diving deep into the process of looking at the reasons and finding new reasons is important in order for us to make the correct judgment of right from wrong. By having reasons, we give ourselves a strong argument against any critiques that we may encounter that would be against our beliefs such as our cultures. I believe we can’t just merely say something is right or wrong without any deep thinking about logical reasoning.…

    • 774 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    We therefore require an intrinsic connection to truth. If we accept that most intellectual virtues have truth as their ultimate end; then it follows that our disposition in arriving at true knowledge is truth-driven. Zagzebski defines knowledge as, “cognitive contact with reality arising out of acts of intellectual virtue.” Arriving to moral and intellectual virtues is based on circumstance and motivation. Virtues are properties that add to the characteristics of a person. Virtuous motivation that results with an act can result from epistemic motives.…

    • 1068 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Kierkegaard Subjectivity

    • 1156 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Opposed to that, we have objectivity that is based on observable phenomena and is not influenced by personal opinions or beliefs. Hence, according to these definitions an objective truth would be to say that everyone possesses their own subjective truth. We can’t deny that anything that is true is true for a subject. Thus, another way to interpret subjectivity is by the unique relationship between the subject and the object. Indeed, that is what Kierkegaard means when he says that “Truth is subjectivity”: to find the truth, the most important is to find how one relates to objective facts (realities) rather than noticing those facts.…

    • 1156 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Essential to this method is the requirement that one should "set aside as false" what might be doubted. On the traditional conception, then, we are following the dictates of reason only when we come to believe something because we have certain and indubitable reasons to think it as true” . If reason is the source of a belief, the Person will satisfy two criteria in arriving at it: he will infer only from premises which he knows to be true, and his reasoning will proceed in accordance with the accepted rules of good inference. On the interpretation of Hume's argument, one of the conceptions of reason with which Hume is concerned is this Cartesian view ;if reason were like this then it would not determine our beliefs about the unobserved or the continued and distinct existence of objects. He says that if reason or the understanding, which he often equates with this conception of reason, did determine the belief, then it would have to proceed upon a principle which is well-founded, a just conclusion; the transition would have to be a just inference and the conclusion built on solid reasoning.…

    • 2418 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Descartes believed that if we wanted to believe in something with a certainty, that we had to first doubt everything that we already know. In other words, we had to simply pretend that everything was questionable. Descartes believed that the power to think was not a mistake and by thinking, we prove that we have minds. Descartes believed that we could have knowledge by believing that an all-good, all-powerful God would not permit us to be deceived when…

    • 772 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Descartes Rationalism claims that we have a priori knowledge of matters of fact that does not depend on experience. He argues that we gain knowledge from the fact that we know certain truths innately partly by our rational nature and we have rational intuition, which allows us to grasp certain truths logically. Descartes argument cannot be significant because self-evident concepts provide no knowledge about the world. Yet sense experience may not be sure, it offers us evidence that is as reliable as we need. Hume’s Empiricism claims that we have a posteriori knowledge and that ideas are simply a weaker version of sense of impressions.…

    • 1404 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays