An introduction to the literature by descartes

The town of La Haye, which lies 47 kilometers south of Tours, has subsequently been renamed Descartes.

An introduction to the literature by descartes

An introduction to the literature by descartes

It was in in Bavaria that Descartes first wrote down some of his thoughts on philosophy. These thoughts, subsequently presented in the Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophywere to exert a profound influence on modern philosophy, effectively determining many of its central concerns for over two hundred years.

A central feature of this work is its adherence to the Copernican theorywhich holds the earth to orbit the sun. In he published a work that sought to present his scientific theories, the Dioptric, Meteors, and Geometry; the Discourse on Method formed the theoretical introduction to this work.

In the Discourse and the Meditations Descartes set out to offer a theory of knowledge immune to the criticism of scepticism. Against this view, Descartes aims to illustrate that there is at least one piece of knowledge that all humans have and cannot doubt.

This method begins by doubting everything that it is possible to doubt and seeing if there is anything that remains immune to such doubt. Starting in this way, Descartes argues, will thus enable us to discover the foundations of knowledge. Once we have done this we will be in a position to articulate the structure upon which a lasting science can rest.

So, he begins by casting doubt on the veracity of the evidence given to us by our senses. In turn, we can also doubt other beliefs: All these notions, he concludes, can be doubted and hence cannot serve as a means for providing us with a form of knowledge that is immune to the corrosive power of doubt.

Thus, however deceived he may be, Descartes is now in a position to assert one truth that cannot be doubted. Whatever else may be the case, it is always true that he exists.

In turn, Descartes attempts to define what this existing being is. Above all, he concludes, he is a being who thinks, i. Thus, Descartes arrives at the conclusion that he himself can be characterised in one manner above all others: According to Descartes, the T that thinks can be defined by way of drawing a distinction between the mechanical structure of the human body and the fact that human activities are always exhibitions of intelligence.

Because of this, he argues, all human actions are manifestations of a soul or mind. The properties of bodies are physical, in that they can be seen, touched, occupy a particular space, etc.

But the veracity of the body can always be doubted. The self that thinks, however, cannot be doubted, for it is the self that is engaged in the act of doubting. In this way Descartes formulates the basis for his dualistic account of the relationship between mind and body.

According to this view, mind is a substance that is essentially different from bodily substance. Knowledge, he claims, is like an edifice, and any edifice must be erected upon a secure foundation.

In this sense, Descartes, like any builder of a house, is building his account of knowledge by starting with the foundation and working his way up from there.

An introduction to the literature by descartes

What is special about the mind, he then argues, is that it has the ability to act and reflect in a spontaneous manner. It is our intellect rather than our senses, he contends, which actually reveals the physical world to us p.

Because human beings are rational they are able to think of the world about them in manner that is meaningful. In turn, since we are definable as the possessors of intellect, it follows that we think of the physical world by using ideas i.

Equally important is the fact that Descartes derives his theory solely from the act of rational introspection. For him, merely contemplating what he is in isolation from his environment is sufficient for securing a foundation for knowledge.

According to this argument, if I am able to have a clear and distinct conception of God in my mind then the cause of this conception cannot be attributed to me. This is because I am finite, and it is impossible that a finite being should be the source of the attribute of infinite perfection that characterises God see Meditation 3.

This being the case, God must exist. If God is truthful then he would not allow us to be deceived with regard to the perceptions that we have by way of our senses.

Just because for something to be perfect it must necessarily exist does not imply that there is something that exists that is perfect. Descartes thinks of subjectivity in a manner that has been extremely influential. A subject, on his view, is an entity that, because it has selfconsciousness, has an immediate sense of what it is.

A subject, in other words, can be defined by way of its self-awareness. In turn, it is the sense of certainty that accompanies this self-awareness that characterises knowledge in general.

This view implies an attitude of individualism with regard to issues of knowledge. For Descartes, the individual is taken to be something given.In , Descartes published (in Latin) Meditations on first philosophy in which he referred to the proposition, though not explicitly as "cogito, ergo sum" in Meditation II: (Latin:) hoc pronuntiatum: ego sum, ego existo, [d] quoties a me profertur, vel mente concipitur, necessario esse verum.

Descartes embodied: reading Cartesian philosophy through student, I had to assist in an introduction to philosophy. The Descartes the literature outside of English. Things have changed considerably since then; the history of philosophy, at least in the early-modern period.

A summary of Introduction in Rene Descartes's Principles of Philosophy. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Principles of Philosophy and what it means.

Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Introduction. During his lifetime, Rene Descartes was known throughout Europe as a leading contemporary scientist. He developed one of the most plausible versions of the new mechanistic, mathematical accounts of the world and used it to provide thorough explanations in the fields of optics, cosmology, physics, physiology, and biology.

Descartes argued that philosophy must be based on a clear, rational method of inquiry.

SparkNotes: Principles of Philosophy: Introduction

In order to establish a firm basis for this method, he subjected popularly-held assumptions concerning the nature of the self and the universe to a process of rigorous doubt. Philosophy: An Introduction Through Literature [Lowell Kleiman, Stephen Lewis] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

Philosophy and literature are natural allies--philosophy supplying perennial themes raised anew from one generation to the nextReviews: 7.

René Descartes - Wikipedia