The Rationalism Of Descartes And Leibniz Essay — страница 2

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dream argument. The basic layout of the argument for dreaming is that if it’s possible that we are dreaming, we cannot have empirical beliefs. It is possible that we are dreaming, so we can’t have certain knowledge regarding empirical beliefs. To further illustrate his skepticism regarding empirical beliefs, he proposes the purely theoretical “evil demon” argument. In it he argues that if it is possible that we are deceived by an evil god, then we cant know anything with certainty. Since it is possible that we are being deceived by an evil god, then we cannot know with certainty. These arguments were made to establish that it is possible that either through perceptual error or cognitive dysfunction, we may be deceived and not know with certainty. In light of his newfound

credo of doubt and skepticism, he finds himself questioning his very existence. If in fact it is possible that an evil god is tricking him, could it also be possible that he doesn’t really exist at all? To prove his existence he uses the maxim of “Cogito ergo sum”, or “I think therefore I am”. The only thing that could not be doubted is that he thought something, even if it was thinking he was dreaming or being tricked, or thinking that he didn’t have a body. This was what he saw as the first true principle and the basis for any further inquiry. This led him to suppose that the essence of being was thinking, and furthermore, that the mind was separate from the body. This was a foundation, but it had one problem. It only proved that he existed. He had no way to show

that his surroundings, including other people, existed. Descartes realized for this and other reasons that he needed to prove God’s existence. God could be the only guarantee that our clear and distinct ideas are true, and that we are not being tricked by an evil demon. For this, Descartes was happy enough to use a version of Anselm’s ontological proof to argue that the idea of a perfect God must have a cause. Since we are a pretty hopeless when it comes to perfection, it couldn’t be us, so God must be the cause of our idea of his perfection. He writes that, ” the more perfect…cannot be a consequence of…the less perfect.” The very idea of perfection implies existence, so to speak of a non-existent perfection is to engage in contradiction. For Descartes, God seems to

fall into the realm of a Platonic form of God, an apriori existence. From his own existence, Descartes “proved” God’s existence and it was also in this way that Descartes proved that his external world existed. This brings us back to the mind-body problem. Having said the mind and the body were separate, Descartes then had to explain how they worked together in seemingly perfect unison. His theory began with one absolute substance, God, and two relative substances, mind and matter. Man, then, partakes of the two relative substances of which all else in the universe is made. Man is of the universe, for Descartes. As part of nature, he is mechanical to the extreme; he is a machine which operates by natural laws just as a watch might operate. These determinist ideas were to

have a long influence and were propagated along with a similar dualism in the philosophy of Leibniz. Leibniz was probably the supreme intellect of his age, writing on many subjects, as well as inventing the differential calculus. Most of what he published while alive was similar to Descartes in its content in that it was limited to what the Royalty and those in charge wanted to believe. In public Leibniz propounded the “principle of the best”, which among other things, argued that God has created the best possible world. Leibniz believed that finite substances, things like you and I, are composed of simples. He called these simples monads. The word monad comes from the Greek for unity which reflects the harmony he saw in the monad. He used an argument based on composition to

argue for monads. He said that a substance is either a composite or a simple. If it’s a composite it can be divided, and if it can be divided, the division cannot continue infinitely. Division must end with an indivisible substance. Therefore, there are simple indivisible things. These are things that Leibniz has named monads. He says that these monads are non-extended, non-material, and by nature they are immortal. Leibniz’s philosophy sees people as only partly distinct from everything else that exists. Everything, people included, is made up of monads. All monads have similar properties, but each monad is different. No two monads are exactly alike, but they function in complete harmony. He compares them to “several different bands of musicians or choirs, playing their