Descartes’s goal


Read the following pages:

Epistemology Intro: p. 311-314

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Descartes: p. 322-332

Hume: p. 333-341

Answer the following questions:

Descartes: p. 324 Q 1-7, p. 333 Q 3,4
Hume: p. 335 Q 1-4, p. 341 Q2

1. What was Descartes’s goal, and what method did he employ to get there?
2. Many of our beliefs are based on sensations. Descartes offered two arguments, the arguments from deception and dreaming, to show that beliefs based on sensations are not trustworthy. State these arguments in your own words.
3. Some of our beliefs— for example, that two plus three equals five— are based on reasoning, not sensations. Descartes argues that even arithmetic calculations can be doubted. What is his arguments?
4. Descartes ended the first Meditation with the famous malicious or evil demon argument. What is the point of this argument?
5. Descartes concluded that the statement “ I am, I exist” must be true whenever he thought it. Why? What reasons support this conclusion?
6. The next step in Descartes’s argument is to reach the conclusion that he is a thinking thing. How did he reach that conclusion? Why did he not conclude instead that he was a physical thing?
7. In the final paragraph of Meditation II, Descartes listed several things he had learned from his consideration of a piece of wax. What are they, and how did he arrive at these conclusions?



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