What Is Descartes Trying To Achieve In

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What Is Descartes Trying To Achieve In The Meditations And What Is The Relationship Between T Essay, Research Paper What Descartes is trying to achieve in the Meditations can be simply described as trying to find the truth. Although in the printed dedication at the start of the work he explains that his core goal is to prove the existence of God, the truth he is seeking for is more fundamental than even that: he wants to find out which premises and ideas, if any, are able to be indubitably known. In short, he sets out to find out if there is anything he can be certain of. The terms ?knowledge? and ?certainty? are used interchangeably in everyday life, many philosophers consider them to be separate concepts entirely. Moreover, as Magee has pointed out, Descartes considered

that ?certainty? and ?truth? to also be different ideas. The relationship between the goal of Descartes? project and certainty will therefore have to be considered, in order to assess how effective what he is trying to achieve, and whether he can actually achieve it. During the time Descartes was writing, the sciences were unified, and were closely connected to philosophy and theology. Cottingham comments that the prevailing view was that ?knowledge was a profoundly difficult and complex business? and that the search for truth was ?a laborious attempt to uncover occult powers and forces?. Others felt that all the world?s truths could somehow be solved by one individual thinking alone, and extreme sceptics who were sceptical about the possibility of find any truths at all[1].

Descartes himself can be said to fit in the second category, and indeed was contemptuous of the idea that knowledge could be gained from books, as shown in part two of his Discourse on Method: ?I thought that the sciences found in books?do not approach so near to the truth as the simple reasoning which a man of common sense can quite naturally carry out respecting the things which come immediately before him.? This flows very much from Descartes? opinion that the individual can work to a much greater degree of perfection than a group of people. All that matters is that the enquirer uses the right method, and the mysteries of the universe should, ultimately come clear. In the Discourse on Method, Descartes comments that education corrupts the abilities of the human mind to do

this:??I thought that since we have all been children before men and since it has for long fallen to us to be governed by our appetites and our teachers (who often contradicted one another and none of whom perhaps counselled us always for the best), it is almost impossible that our judgements should be so excellent or solid as they should have been had we had complete use of our reason since our birth, and had we been guided by its means alone.?This has been quoted at length for the fact that it illustrates some of the reasoning behind the method he adopts in the Meditations. In order to discover what he can indubitably know, which is, as mentioned above, the major goal of the Meditations, it is necessary to clear the mind of all knowledge previously known or assumed. Not only

does he consider himself to have been misled by secondary sources of knowledge, he includes in this anything he has cause to doubt. The ?Method of Doubt?, as his method has been termed, is his technique for achieving his goal. Descartes removes from his mind anything that he might have reason to doubt. By stripping away all that can be doubted, he is trying to find if there is any ?clear and distinct? idea whose certainty is indubitable. He describes it as a way to pre-empt any criticisms from sceptics, and thus assure its certainty to his mind. However, as was said in the opening paragraph of this essay, certainty is considered by some to be a different concept to that of knowledge. Certainty is an internal state of the mind ? one can be certain that something is true, but this