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Descartes PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Descartes. 2 nd Meditation. Archimedean Point. Archimedes required only ONE POINT that was firm and unmovable to transport the globe from one place to another.

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2nd Meditation

Archimedean point

Archimedean Point

Archimedes required only ONE POINT that was firm and unmovable to transport the globe from one place to another.

Similarly Descartes thinks he only needs ONE TRUTH he can know with absolute certainty to construct all other truths pertaining to all the other disciplines.

Too Ambitious?

Mind and body

Mind and Body

In the 2nd Meditation Descartes begins to sever the mind from the body or thinking from the senses.

He completes this separation in Mediation 6.

In Meditation 2 he tries to show that thinking is more certain than the senses. (Rationalism)

Through his wax experiment, he tries to show that even the act of perception is ultimately an act of the intellectual intuition. (Rationalism)

1 st indubitable truth

1st Indubitable Truth

Cogito ergo sum argument

“Doubtless, then, I exist, since I am deceived;”

“And, let him deceive me as he may, he can never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I shall be conscious that I am something.”

“The proposition I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time it is expressed by me, or conceived in my mind.” 119

What am i

What am I?

I am simply a thinking thing.

That is, I am a thing that affirms, denies, perceives, doubts, has sensations feels, has ideas, and all other stuff that goes on in thought and in the mind.

What other truths can i deduce

What other truths can I deduce?

What can I know? What propositions can I believe and know with absolute certainty?

1) I exist (as long as I am conscious)

2) All claims regarding my thoughts.

Claims regarding my thoughts

Claims regarding my thoughts

Descartes argues that as long as I limit my claims or judgments to my thoughts (in consciousness) and do not attempt to infer anything about the external world, I cannot be mistaken.



Internal world/Mind

Absolutely Certain

External World/Nature


I perceive a tree.

I feel a pain on my right foot.

I see people in front of me.

There is a tree.

I have a right foot and there is something wrong with it.

There are people in front of me.

Epistemological problem

Epistemological Problem

Solipsism: I can only be certain about my own thoughts.

Gap between the mind and external world.

How can I be certain that my ideas are caused by things in the external world and how can I know if the things resemble my ideas?

Problem of external world

Problem of External World

If what I have access to are only the ideas and images in my mind, how can I know who or what caused them? (Representational Realism)

How can I be sure that the images truly represent reality?

How can I even know that there is a reality we call the external world?

Remember, for all I know an evil deceiver could be the cause of all my experiences, ideas, and thoughts.

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