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First, it can be read as setting the groundwork for the meditations that follow, where doubt is employed as a powerful tool against Aristotelian philosophy. Second, it can, and often is, read standing on its own as the foundation of modern skepticism.
We will briefly discuss these complementary readings in turn.
Descartes saw his Meditations as providing the metaphysical underpinning of his new physics. Like Galileo, he sought to overturn two-thousand-year-old prejudices injected into the Western tradition by Aristotle.
The motivation, then, behind the First Meditation is to start in a position the Aristotelian philosophers would agree with and then, Descartes first meditation essay, to seduce them away from it. Descartes is aware of how revolutionary his ideas are, and must pay lip service to the orthodox opinions of the day in order to be heeded.
Reading the First Meditation as an effort to coax Aristotelians away from their customary opinions allows us to read different interpretations into the different stages of doubt.
For instance, there is some debate as to whether Descartes intended his famous "Dream Argument" to suggest the universal possibility of dreaming--that though there is waking experience, I can never know which moments are dreams and which are waking--or the possibility of a universal dream--that my whole life is a dream and that there is no waking world.
If we read Descartes as suggesting the universal possibility of dreaming, we can explain an important distinction between the Dream Argument and the later "Evil Demon Argument. The Dream Argument, if meant to suggest the universal possibility of dreaming, suggests only that the senses are not always and wholly reliable.
The Meditations can be seen to follow the model of St. In the First Meditation, Descartes leads us through a similar purgation, though with a different purpose. Here he wants to persuade his Aristotelian readers to purge themselves of their prejudices.
He also hopes to lead the mind away from the senses that are so heavily relied upon by the Aristotelians. In the meditations that follow, he will argue that our most certain knowledge comes from the mind unaided by the senses.
Lastly, this process of radical doubt will hopefully rule out any doubts from the positive claims Descartes will build up in the next five meditations.
Read in the wider context of the Meditations, these skeptical doubts are a means to the end of preparing a resistant audience to the metaphysics Descartes plans to build.
Read on its own, the First Meditation can be seen as presenting skeptical doubts as a subject of study in their own right. Certainly, skepticism is a much discussed and hotly debated topic in philosophy, even today.
Descartes was the first to raise the mystifying question of how we can claim to know with certainty anything about the world around us. The idea is not that these doubts are probable, but that their possibility can never be entirely ruled out. And if we can never be certain, how can we claim to know anything?
Skepticism cuts straight to the heart of the Western philosophical enterprise and its attempt to provide a certain foundation for our knowledge and understanding of the world.
It can even be pushed so far as to be read as a challenge to our very notion of rationality. No one actually lives skepticism--no one actually doubts whether other people really exist--but it is very difficult to justify a dismissal of skepticism.
Western philosophy since Descartes has been largely marked and motivated by an effort to overcome this problem. Particularly interesting responses can be found in Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein.Using meditation as a mean for the readers to partake with him in this self-introspective process of psychological transformation, Descartes overthrows previous prejudices and misconception through radical doubt in order to formulate the foundation for First Philosophy.
First Essay Assignment Question: Meditation on First Philosophy It can be seen that Descartes Meditations on first philosophy raised a lot of questions regarding the existence and nature of the self, the existence of God, the nature of truth and the possibility of error, and finally also the essence and existence of bodies along other .
Descartes explains the philosophical outlook that he develops to be marked and defined by the skepticism he employs in the first meditation. He explains how the senses are not always reliable, “ even though the senses do sometimes deceive us when it is .
Meditations on First Philosophy in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated (Latin: Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstratur) is a philosophical treatise by René Descartes first published in Latin in Meditation: Meditation and New Harbinger Publications Essay Daily Meditation Meditation is about your consciousness.
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