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Descates Meditations II. A starting point for reconstructing the world. The cogito’s consequences. What is the argument? I think, therefore I am? I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me, or What does it show? What is this I that exists?

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descates meditations ii

Descates Meditations II

A starting point for reconstructing the world.

the cogito s consequences
The cogito’s consequences
  • What is the argument?
    • I think, therefore I am?
    • I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me, or
  • What does it show?
  • What is this I that exists?
  • The Demon, again: D. assumes he has no body at all, so what’s left?
  • I exist so long as I am thinking.
could i still be a physical thing
Could I still be a physical thing?
  • I know that I exist.
  • I also recognize that all corporeal images, “and …in general, everything relating to the nature of body could be mere dreams.” (170)
  • Could D’s knowledge of his own existence be knowledge of the existence of a physical thing?
the unity of consciousness
The Unity of Consciousness
  • All D’s thoughts (doubts, imaginings, understandings, ‘denings’, willings and unwillings, sensings etc) pertain to him, this thinking thing.
  • This unity (Kant: this ‘I, he or it, the thing which thinks’) is a puzzle in its own right.
  • Our thoughts, past, present and future, all need some kind of connection in order to be called ours.
the persistence of the physical
The persistence of the physical
  • We still tend to think we understand physical things better (more distinctly) than we do our minds.
  • The wax argument: what is the point of this examination of a single physical thing?
  • Only the mind (reason) can grasp the full potential of the wax to assume an infinity of shapes; only judgment allows us to perceive even physical things (the men in the street).
  • But can we really ‘distinguish the wax from its outward forms’ by our reason?
self knowledge first
Self-knowledge first
  • Every use of the mind to grasp, understand or know anything involves awareness of the mind itself– so it is more clearly (conclusively) known to exist than anything else.
  • But also, every ‘point of view’ I can use to acquire more distinct (complete, detailed, integrated) knowledge of anything involves more complete, etc. knowledge of my mind, so it’s more distinctly known to mesd than anything else.
ideas and the existence of god
Ideas and the existence of God
  • D now operates from behind the ‘veil of ideas’.
  • Here he is certain: he doubts, wills, has sensory experiences (treated merely as modes of thinking, they aren’t in question).
  • But being certain provides an illustration of what is required for certainty!
  • “a clear and distinct perception of what I am asserting.”
what s clear and distinct
What’s clear and distinct?
  • That I have certain thoughts, including sensations.
  • But not that there are external objects that those sensations resemble.
  • What about mathematics? Only the thought of a deceiving God led D to worry about arithmetic and geometry.
  • So God’s existence and nature must be settled for us to get much further.
kinds of thoughts
Kinds of thoughts
  • Some are ‘images of things’ (these are ‘ideas’ properly so-called).
  • Some thoughts ‘have various additional forms’: to will, to affirm, to deny… these are volitions and judgements.
  • Ideas in themselves aren’t true or false– only judgements are.
  • Thinking just of ideas, there’s no question of error (transparency of mind again).
nature
Nature
  • ‘Nature’ teaches me to suppose that there are outer things that resemble (some of) my ideas.
  • Further, these ideas don’t depend on my will. I experience having them whether I want to or not…
  • But the impulse to believe in such outer things is just a habit of mind, and not really to be trusted.
sensory ideas vs what i judge
Sensory ideas vs. what I judge
  • The sun: the sensory idea and an astronomical idea are in conflict, and in fact I’m more persuaded by the astronomical idea.
  • Ideas differ, not as modes of thought, but in terms of their content, i.e. in terms of what they are ideas of.
  • An idea of a substance ‘amounts to something more’ than ideas of modes or accidents…
  • And an idea of God (the philosophers’ God) has more ‘objective reality’ in it than ideas of finite substances.
the clever argument
The clever argument
  • How does having the idea of God show that there is a God, according to Descartes?
  • What is the difference between ‘formal’ and ‘objective’ reality, for Descartes?
  • What is the idea of God, according to Descartes?
  • How does an idea come to have a certain content? What limits the content that an idea can have? Why must causes have formal reality?