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Descartes

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Descartes portrays his own search for truth as the only knowledge. This includes the truth of mathematic and the metaphysical foundation of sciences. He argued that such knowledge could only be acquired through reasoning. However, the knowledge of physics can be gained from experience of the scientific methods. According to him, the rational pursuit of truth should be based on doubting every belief about reality. He developed a way to attain the real truth other than what he had acquired in the school. Truth that is obtained by reason is broken down into intuition elements which through a deductive process can result to clear truth. For example, he introduced metaphysical dualism which can be used to distinguish between the human mind and body to solve the mind-body problems.

Can philosophy be taught? According to Descartes, it cannot be taught but can only be studied and learned. Philosophy begins from a wonderment of the Being of the universe which is the basic problem of philosophy. It actually starts from the self. According to Socrates, philosophy is learned from the act of persistent questioning of authorities and public figures in order to discover the truth of a good life. Socrates was much interested in ethics; he considered the principle of self-knowledge as the adequate condition to a good life. His paradox of an unexamined life is not worth living was meant to highlight the importance of knowledge before anything else on earth.

Logic is a branch of mathematics which is a sub set of philosophy. Mathematical logics employ the use of operations which make use of ‘true’ or ‘false’ parameters other than numbers. Mathematics is usually a good model to whoever wants to have a clear and logical reasoning because the rules of logics are properly designed, therefore, any well designed and valid mathematical deduction is usually correct.  It cannot be realistic to believe that our thought processes are as clear as mathematical proofs because not all thoughts are properly designed to tackle basic human problems.

The cogito ergo sum is Descartes’ most celebrated contribution to the history of ideas. The meaning of this is that someone is wondering whether or not they exist, in and or itself; proof that something an ‘I’ exists to do the thinking. According to René Descartes, the reason why human beings doubt that they have a body is because of the failure to apply their brains to work i.e. not thinking. The message actually depicts that whatever a person thinks, that is what he is. And if a person believes there is external world, there is, if not there isn’t.

In Meditation II, Descartes addresses a piece of wax as he melts it in the fire. His main intention is to demonstrate how the same wax changes all its eight characteristics upon exposure to some source of heat. He illustrates that despite the piece of wax still remain even after its change of form, it is nothing appealing to the five senses. It remains to concede that I do not take hold of what this wax is although the imagination i perceive it through the mind alone. But I need to recognize that the insight of the wax is neither a touching, nor a seeing, nor an imagining.

Dreams are perceived as external object openly through the concept of our own minds and the images are the result of the external object we perceive. He complements that there are no precise ways of differentiating dreams from waking experiences and hallucinations. My view is that a person’s dream is a clear picture of what the mind can see. The method of hyperbolic doubt is the practical and excellent method that ensures both provable and true statements are deductively demonstrated. It actually resembles modern scepticism in the questioning of the most accepted beliefs and norms.

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