Table of Contents Overall Analysis and Themes The Meditations are generally considered the starting point of modern Western philosophy, and with good reason. In this one brief text, Descartes turns many Aristotelian doctrines upside down and frames many of the questions that are still being debated in philosophy today.
What were the main themes in the book: Here is a brief summary of the key ideas in Descartes Meditations.
Descartes Meditations — 1: What can be called into Doubt In the first of Descartes Meditations, he realises that he cannot verify anything unless it is doubted. His doubt has to begin with doubting himself.
Descartes is not arguing that he does not exist, he believes in fact the opposite. By doubting, Descartes can question the very essence of what his opinions are based upon. Descartes comes to realise that anything that he has come to know through his senses.
However, he is not an empiricist bases things upon sense perceptionbut a rationalist based on rational ideas. This is because he argues that the sense decieve us. For example, looking at a round castle tower from a distance, our senses will tell us that it is rectangular, which is incorrect.
If we look at people far away, they appear to be tiny, when they are in fact life size. Descartes goes on to discuss whether we identify a difference in real life and a dreaming state.
But even though there is a difference, dreams are influenced by reality. Although we can doubt composite things, we cannot doubt forms such as size, shape and colour. This skeptical doubt is the crux of the first of Descartes meditations.
But it can be argued that this is actually a foundation for the rest of the meditations, and to be used in questioning an omnipotent God and the mind-body problem. Even if we were to be deceived by an evil demon as to what we see and hear, if the thoughts are still there, we would still exist.
If we see wax in its initial hardened beeswax form, it has certain properties — it is hard and yellow in colour. When wax melts, it becomes runny and a different colour. Therefore, what we learn about the wax cannot come from the sense alone, but require intellect. If we were to look out of a window on a cold day, and see people so covered up by hats and scarves that we could not see their faces, we would not presume that they were robots or automatons.
We would use our intellect to understand that there were people beneath the hats and scarves.
Sense perception alone is not enough for us to learn about the world. The existence of mind is better known than the existence of the body. The Trademark Argument In Meditation 3, Descartes summarises his meditations so far, and categorises his thoughts.
Some ideas are innate, or fundamentally within us, whereas other ideas are not, they come from outside such as unicorns or mermaids. Descartes distinguishes between clear and distinct perceptions.
Whatever can be perceived clearly and distinctly must be true. However, there is the danger of circular thinking regarding clear and distinct ideas, falling into the Cartesian Circle. This is a key criticism of Descartes Meditations.
Descartes Meditations 4 — Clear and Distinct Ideas Descartes fourth mediation is concerned firstly with whether God is a deceiver and secondly with clear and distinct ideas.
Only an imperfect less than perfectly good being could practice deliberate deception. As God is a perfect being, God is not a deceiver. Descartes writes that since his faculty of judgement comes from God, he can make no mistakes if it is used properly.
In addition, God gave us freewill, which is finite, and makes it impossible to deceive oneself. In the fifth meditation, Descartes presents the argument that existence is as necessary to God as three sides and three angles are necessary to a triangle.
Existence is as essential to God as moutains are to valleys. Read more about Descartes version of the Ontological Argument. Descartes Meditations 6 — The Cartesian Body The last of Descartes meditations is concerned with the distinction between the mind and the body.
Imagination is not essential to the mind, as the mind could think without an imagination.Learn Meditations on Philosophy Rene Descartes with free interactive flashcards.
Choose from different sets of Meditations on Philosophy Rene Descartes flashcards on Quizlet. Discourse on Method and Meditations of First Philosophy (Translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane with an Introduction by A. D. Lindsay) Rene Descartes out of 5 stars /5(). René Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine (now Descartes, Indre-et-Loire), France, on 31 March His mother, Jeanne Brochard, died soon after giving birth to him, and so he was not expected to survive.
Descartes' father, Joachim, was a member of the Parlement of Brittany at Rennes. René lived with his grandmother and with his great-uncle. RENE DESCARTES MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY Meditations On First Philosophy René Descartes Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, This file is of the edition of The Philosophical Works of Descartes (Cambridge University Press), translated by Elizabeth S.
Haldane. Prefatory Note To The Meditations.
RENÉ DESCARTES Meditations on First Philosophy ♠ From Meditations on First Philosophy, in Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings, translated by John Cottingham, Rev. ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, ), in this book, first because these arguments are enough to show that the decay of.
Rene Descartes was a French Philosopher famous for the Trademark argument and a version of the ontological argument. What were the main themes in the book: Descartes ‘Meditations on First Philosophy?’ The book is written from the perspective of a gender neutral narrator, originally in French.