Essays Descartes Meditations

Essays Descartes Meditations-51
Any half-decent demon can make you think that something is a valid argument when it isn't. One line of thought attacks the coherence of the causal claim.The other focusses on Substance Dualism on its own, and attacks the very notion of a pure thinking substance.

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‘I would not urge anyone to read this book except those who are able and willing to meditate seriously with me’, Descartes says to his readers in the Preface (p.

8, below), and he makes it clear that he means the not to be a treatise, a mere exposition of philosophical reasons and conclusions, but rather an exercise in thinking, presented as an encouragement and a guide to readers who will think philosophically themselves.

The next argument of Descartes' that I find objectionable is, assuming God is infinite, perfect, and therefore not a deceiver, that Descartes' ideas, which he believes come from God, are true because God would not deceive him.

This seems to me to be somewhat of a cheap fail-safe established to back up his arguments in case of a disagreement.

They are arranged in order of difficulty and accuracy.

For it does seem as though no argument would be demon-proof. So that there are quite distinct lines of attack on the Cartesian view.

The Cottingham is the most accessible, but it is also the least accurate. What is the difference between the dream hypothesis and the demon hypothesis? What criterion does Descartes (later) offer as a way of distinguishing waking from dreaming experiences? You may like to compare his treatment with that of the wretched Cottingham. Again, what does Des Cartes himself say on these matters?

(Cambridge UP, 1984) You will also need at least one secondary source. The Williams is by far the best, but it is also by far the most difficult, especially for people beginning philosophy. Why does Descartes thus cavalierly dismiss the possibility that he might be mad? I recommend Williams, and direct your attention to his appendix on the Dream Argument.

Be sure to keep these two lines of attack separate in both your thinking and your writing.

And to encourage you to structure your thinking carefully, I have chosen a title which requires you to piece your stuff together into one coherent story.


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