1
   

can I get a proof read?

 
 
Dosed
 
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 08:12 pm
Hey guys. First paper in my Epistemology class, I could use a good proof read of my introduction, especially since the bolded portion of the prompt confused the hell out of me. Please and thank you fellow philos.

Prompt: How far can radical doubt really go? Read the passages concerning doubt in both the Discourse and the Meditations and follow Descartes into the vortex. Do you find that you can call everything into question as he claims he is able to do? If you can, in fact, pursue this doubting as far as Descartes does, then do you also discover the same means for recuperating something more than the "I think"? Remember that Descartes is arguing for a productive form of doubt rather than a form that cannot be stopped once it has been unleashed. What power keeps Descartes from falling into a cycle of doubt from which he cannot escape?


Remember, it's a rough draft and it's just the intro.

Intro to essay:

Beginning in 1637, René Descartes began a quest to essentially tear down the foundations of traditional philosophy and build a new solid foundation on which to base his beliefs. He begins this project by first examining his beliefs and then calling everything into question. Those things which can be doubted are systematically excluded from the metaphysical material that will compose the new foundation. Descartes’ purpose and overall agenda is to build the philosophical groundwork on certain truth beyond all doubt. This may seem as an intimidating and perhaps even an impossible task, but Descartes confronts this problem head-on, understanding the importance of truth. In Discourse on Method, written as an informal explanation of his proposal for this project, Descartes describes knowledge as a house that must be torn down and rebuilt upon a solid and sturdy foundation (Part Three, 23).

And so begins the reconstruction of Descartes’ metaphysical dwelling place.
This reformation of thought comes through extreme hyperbolic doubt that is seemingly beyond reason. However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted. Is it necessary, or even possible, to call everything into question as Descartes does in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy? In essence, the philosophical house that Descartes burns to the ground leaves behind very little to salvage. However, it is through the cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” that Descartes finds clear and distinct truth of which he uses as his foundation and begins to rebuild. This analytic truth leads Descartes in his attempts to prove God and essentially end his cycle of doubt. By looking at both Discourse on Method and Mediations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that this hyperbolic doubt is reasonable and necessary to Descartes’ project. This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method. However, it is not reasonable to go beyond this truth in the foundation of knowledge. In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth in the cogito, it is not possible to recuperate anything further.
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Dosed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 08:40 pm
38 views and no help? Sad

help a poor philosophy student out. please? Smile
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 10:21 pm
@Dosed,
In the olden days VideCorSpoon would pop in. I don't have a background necessary for giving advice for a paper.

Just between us philosophy-wise, I'm not sure what you mean by cycle of doubt.
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  2  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 11:08 pm
@Dosed,
Hi, Dosed. i'm not a teacher or professor, so i'm neither qualified nor am i likely to practically be much help. i'm also not a big fan of doing people's homework for them, but it's hard not to offer some sort of critical advice to a student every once in a while. Finally, i'm also not entirely certain what type of help you are looking for. If you want a few hastily formed (and yet strangely picky) opinions on your intro...well, that i can certainly provide.

Dosed wrote:
Beginning in 1637, René Descartes began a quest to essentially tear down the foundations of traditional philosophy and build a new solid foundation on which to base his beliefs.


i'd change "build" to "establish". One doesn't normally use the word "building" in direct reference to foundations, so much as one "builds on" them.

Dosed wrote:
He begins this project by first examining his beliefs and then calling everything into question. Those things which can be doubted are systematically excluded from the metaphysical material that will compose the new foundation.


You might want to point out that he calls into doubt both his beliefs and perceptions. Also, what you mean by "metaphysical material" is unclear. I understand that you are already setting the stage for your house-building metaphor, but i'm not sure you need to refer to the "foundation" just yet. I'd rephrase the second sentence above.

Dosed wrote:
Descartes’ purpose and overall agenda is to build the philosophical groundwork on certain truth beyond all doubt.


Again, i'd use "set" instead of "build".

Dosed wrote:
This may seem as an intimidating and perhaps even an impossible task, but Descartes confronts this problem head-on, understanding the importance of truth. In Discourse on Method, written as an informal explanation of his proposal for this project, Descartes describes knowledge as a house that must be torn down and rebuilt upon a solid and sturdy foundation (Part Three, 23).


The last sentence in the paragraph is good, and it sets the stage for the extension of the metaphor in the following paragraph. However, i'd cut the first sentence in the section quoted above. It isn't really doing anything to move the essay along or set up the next thought.

Dosed wrote:
And so begins the reconstruction of Descartes’ metaphysical dwelling place.
This reformation of thought comes through extreme hyperbolic doubt that is seemingly beyond reason.


Seems a bit clunky, and ironically, a little hyperbolic. I'd find a way to combine the first two sentences of this paragraph. Something like: "Descartes begins to set his house in order by methodically deploying radical doubt, blah, blah, schmakkity..." i wouldn't use "metaphysical dwelling place". It sounds off key in an otherwise pretty straightforward intro. You might use some variation of it later in the essay, if you are going to continue to develop the house-building metaphor, but it doesn't feel as if you've "earned" the flowery language just yet. Exhaust the simple illustrations of the metaphor before you start reaching for the exotic ones.

Dosed wrote:
However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted. Is it necessary, or even possible, to call everything into question as Descartes does in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy? In essence, the philosophical house that Descartes burns to the ground leaves behind very little to salvage. However, it is through the cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” that Descartes finds clear and distinct truth of which he uses as his foundation and begins to rebuild.


If you choose to revise the beginning of the paragraph, there will obviously be some other revisions that follow from it. i don't know how your professors feel about rhetorical questions in student essays, but back in the day, mine looked down upon them. (That's probably part of the reason that i use them all the time now.) You need to make it clear here that the cogito was not a salvageable part of the "house" Descartes razed, but the foundation he discovered for his new beginning.

Dosed wrote:
This analytic truth leads Descartes in his attempts to prove God and essentially end his cycle of doubt.


i have no idea what your final thesis is going to be, or how important Rene's proof of God is going to be to that thesis, so take this reservation with a grain of salt: Descartes does eventually try to prove the existence of god, but it was not this proof that ended the process of his radical doubt. It was reaching the cogito that ended that "cycle of doubt".

Dosed wrote:
By looking at both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that this hyperbolic doubt is reasonable and necessary to Descartes’ project. This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method. However, it is not reasonable to go beyond this truth in the foundation of knowledge. In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth in the cogito, it is not possible to recuperate anything further.


In your conclusion to your intro (does that even make sense?) lies your main point. i'm not sure that it is an entirely sound interpretation of Descartes' works. i don't want to set up your work for you too much, so i'll just give you my (extremely undeveloped) interpretation of the first section of the Meditations in light of the prompt:

Dosed wrote:
Prompt: How far can radical doubt really go? Read the passages concerning doubt in both the Discourse and the Meditations and follow Descartes into the vortex. Do you find that you can call everything into question as he claims he is able to do? If you can, in fact, pursue this doubting as far as Descartes does, then do you also discover the same means for recuperating something more than the "I think"? Remember that Descartes is arguing for a productive form of doubt rather than a form that cannot be stopped once it has been unleashed. What power keeps Descartes from falling into a cycle of doubt from which he cannot escape?


Descartes exercises radical doubt until he is left with only this self-evident fact: that he doubts. That doubt is a form of thought, leads him to the cogito. Once the self-evident reality of thought is established of itself, it follows that if thought exists it must operate in a particular way. Thus by examining the manner in which "the mind" operates, and treats reality, true proofs about reality may be built.

That finishes my contribution. i encourage you to dismiss what you will. Good luck.

Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Sep, 2010 11:27 pm
@Razzleg,
Good stuff Razzleg. I guess it's true of any philosopher, but to me Descartes' work is particularly related to the time in which he lived. The power of the Church was part of the academic world. At the same time there were folks wanting to get out from under their thumbs and think freely for themselves in a way we take for granted.

Just something to think about in the background.
0 Replies
 
mickalos
 
  2  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 05:54 am
@Dosed,
Quote:
However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted.

Yes, Descartes is concerned with truth, but this is a tad simplistic, I think. You should read Descartes letter of dedication to the Sorbonne, in which he states that he is trying to establish the existence of God and the distinction between body and mind. Think about how this relates to Aristotelian scholasticism, which is a primary target of Descartes'. More specifically, think about aristoltelian physics, which Descartes wants to replace with mechanistic causation, and the scholastic view that knowledge is only gathered by the senses.

Quote:
This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method.

In the the meditations it not entirely certain whether or not analytic truth ever succumbs to the Cartesian method. He seems to me to be far more concerned with dispelling scepticism about ordinary empirical truths, which he does in the 6th meditation.

Quote:

In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth

Better to say how methodological doubt can help us distinguish between certain knowledge and belief. Clearly, doubt cannot lead to truth in the manner that philosophers have thought reason, logic or perception to establish truth.

You should also add an outline of your essay to your intro. "I will begin by discussing... Before ... Thus showing ..."

Quote:
How far can radical doubt really go? Read the passages concerning doubt in both the Discourse and the Meditations and follow Descartes into the vortex. Do you find that you can call everything into question as he claims he is able to do? If you can, in fact, pursue this doubting as far as Descartes does, then do you also discover the same means for recuperating something more than the "I think"? Remember that Descartes is arguing for a productive form of doubt rather than a form that cannot be stopped once it has been unleashed. What power keeps Descartes from falling into a cycle of doubt from which he cannot escape?

People who read the meditations for the first time almost always succumb to Descartes arguments. However, it is worthwhile thinking about some of the ideas in more recent philosophy that renders Descartes impotent.

The holism of the mental: The notion that beliefs and doubts partly gets their content (its meaning) from their relation to other my other beliefs, desires, actions, doubts etc. In other words, what makes my belief the belief that it is its relation to the rest of the mental. When a baby learns to say "Mama", is this a sign that it has any beliefs about its mother, such as "My mother is in the room"? Clearly not if it doesn't have lots of other related beliefs, such as, "The toaster is not my mother", which in turn requires a few beliefs about toasters. The implication for Descartes is best summed up by Wittgenstein in On Certainty "450. A doubt that doubted everything would not be a doubt". (Donald Davidson is also worth looking at here)

The attack on the analytic/synthetic distinction: Is the divine truth of 2+2=4 really immutable? No. In principle, any belief is revisable, even 2+2=4. Quine and Wittgenstein are the best people to read on this.

The Cartesian Circle: Descartes relies on clear and distinct ideas to establish knowledge, and the reliability of clear and distinct ideas is guaranteed only by the existence of a non-deceiving God. However, Descartes proofs of God presuppose the reliability of clear and distinct ideas, thus, his argument is circular and he establishes nothing.

0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 06:07 am
@Dosed,
" Remember that Descartes is arguing for a productive form of doubt rather than a form that cannot be stopped once it has been unleashed. What power keeps Descartes from falling into a cycle of doubt from which he cannot escape?"

I am not sure that this interpretation correctly reflects the Cartesian project; he perhaps assumed that after applying his method of radical doubt to determine if there were something that could withstand it, a truth-model could be found. But it seems (despite some careful tiptoeing about God to avoid the authorities ) that he was quite prepared to push this doubt as far as it would go.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 06:56 am
@Dosed,
Dosed wrote:

Hey guys. First paper in my Epistemology class, I could use a good proof read of my introduction, especially since the bolded portion of the prompt confused the hell out of me. Please and thank you fellow philos.

Prompt: How far can radical doubt really go? Read the passages concerning doubt in both the Discourse and the Meditations and follow Descartes into the vortex. Do you find that you can call everything into question as he claims he is able to do? If you can, in fact, pursue this doubting as far as Descartes does, then do you also discover the same means for recuperating something more than the "I think"? Remember that Descartes is arguing for a productive form of doubt rather than a form that cannot be stopped once it has been unleashed. What power keeps Descartes from falling into a cycle of doubt from which he cannot escape?


Remember, it's a rough draft and it's just the intro.

Intro to essay:

Beginning in 1637, René Descartes began a quest to essentially tear down the foundations of traditional philosophy and build a new solid foundation on which to base his beliefs. He begins this project by first examining his beliefs and then calling everything into question. Those things which can be doubted are systematically excluded from the metaphysical material that will compose the new foundation. Descartes’ purpose and overall agenda is to build the philosophical groundwork on certain truth beyond all doubt. This may seem as an intimidating and perhaps even an impossible task, but Descartes confronts this problem head-on, understanding the importance of truth. In Discourse on Method, written as an informal explanation of his proposal for this project, Descartes describes knowledge as a house that must be torn down and rebuilt upon a solid and sturdy foundation (Part Three, 23).

And so begins the reconstruction of Descartes’ metaphysical dwelling place.
This reformation of thought comes through extreme hyperbolic doubt that is seemingly beyond reason. However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted. Is it necessary, or even possible, to call everything into question as Descartes does in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy? In essence, the philosophical house that Descartes burns to the ground leaves behind very little to salvage. However, it is through the cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” that Descartes finds clear and distinct truth of which he uses as his foundation and begins to rebuild. This analytic truth leads Descartes in his attempts to prove God and essentially end his cycle of doubt. By looking at both Discourse on Method and Mediations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that this hyperbolic doubt is reasonable and necessary to Descartes’ project. This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method. However, it is not reasonable to go beyond this truth in the foundation of knowledge. In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth in the cogito, it is not possible to recuperate anything further.



it is not possible to recuperate anything further.

I was wondering what that meant.

Or what,

This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method

meant. What is "analytic truth"? And how is "analytic truth" disposed of in the Cartesian Method? Really, what does that mean?

What truth is it not reasonable to go beyond "in the Cartesian Method" and how does the Cartesian Method go beyond a truth? What does it mean to "go beyond a truth" anyway?
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 06:57 am
@Dosed,

Beginning in 1637, René Descartes began a quest to essentially tear down the foundations of traditional philosophy and build a new solid foundation on which to base his beliefs. He begins this project by first examining his beliefs and then calling everything into question. Those things which can be doubted are systematically excluded from the metaphysical material that will compose the new foundation. Descartes’ purpose and overall agenda is to build the philosophical groundwork on certain truth beyond all doubt. This may seem as an intimidating and perhaps even an impossible task, but Descartes confronts this problem head-on, understanding the importance of truth. In Discourse on Method, written as an informal explanation of his proposal for this project, Descartes describes knowledge as a house that must be torn down and rebuilt upon a solid and sturdy foundation (Part Three, 23).

And so begins the reconstruction of Descartes’ metaphysical dwelling place.
This reformation of thought comes through extreme hyperbolic doubt that is seemingly beyond reason. However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted. Is it necessary, or even possible, to call everything into question as Descartes does in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy? In essence, the philosophical house that Descartes burns to the ground leaves behind very little to salvage. However, it is through the cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” that Descartes finds clear and distinct truth of which he uses as his foundation and begins to rebuild. This analytic truth leads Descartes in his attempts to prove God and essentially end his cycle of doubt. By looking at both Discourse on Method and Mediations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that this hyperbolic doubt is reasonable and necessary to Descartes’ project. This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method. However, it is not reasonable to go beyond this truth in the foundation of knowledge. In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth in the cogito, it is not possible to recuperate anything further.

NOTE:
I have put some questionable or confusing words or phrases in Boldface.
Comment:
The introduction seems meandering, and if the thesis of the paper is that the cogito provides a clear and distinct model for absolute truth that cannot be applied to other things (i.e., that is not a model at all), then very little of the introduction seems to pertain to it.


kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 07:39 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:


Beginning in 1637, René Descartes began a quest to essentially tear down the foundations of traditional philosophy and build a new solid foundation on which to base his beliefs. He begins this project by first examining his beliefs and then calling everything into question. Those things which can be doubted are systematically excluded from the metaphysical material that will compose the new foundation. Descartes’ purpose and overall agenda is to build the philosophical groundwork on certain truth beyond all doubt. This may seem as an intimidating and perhaps even an impossible task, but Descartes confronts this problem head-on, understanding the importance of truth. In Discourse on Method, written as an informal explanation of his proposal for this project, Descartes describes knowledge as a house that must be torn down and rebuilt upon a solid and sturdy foundation (Part Three, 23).

And so begins the reconstruction of Descartes’ metaphysical dwelling place.
This reformation of thought comes through extreme hyperbolic doubt that is seemingly beyond reason. However, Descartes does this with the intent of finding supreme truth that cannot be doubted. Is it necessary, or even possible, to call everything into question as Descartes does in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy? In essence, the philosophical house that Descartes burns to the ground leaves behind very little to salvage. However, it is through the cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am,” that Descartes finds clear and distinct truth of which he uses as his foundation and begins to rebuild. This analytic truth leads Descartes in his attempts to prove God and essentially end his cycle of doubt. By looking at both Discourse on Method and Mediations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that this hyperbolic doubt is reasonable and necessary to Descartes’ project. This extreme call to question can be followed in order to gain analytic truth back after its disposal in the Cartesian Method. However, it is not reasonable to go beyond this truth in the foundation of knowledge. In this paper I hope to show how though Descartes’ doubt does lead to certain truth in the cogito, it is not possible to recuperate anything further.

NOTE:
I have put some questionable or confusing words or phrases in Boldface.
Comment:
The introduction seems meandering, and if the thesis of the paper is that the cogito provides a clear and distinct model for absolute truth that cannot be applied to other things (i.e., that is not a model at all), then very little of the introduction seems to pertain to it.





The Cogito is not a model for truth, absolute or not. The Cogito is a model for absolute certainty. Something very different. Descartes's issue is not whether it is true that each of us exists, but whether each of us can be certain he exists.
0 Replies
 
Dosed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Sep, 2010 10:22 am
@Razzleg,
Thank you very, very much.

Your comments were really helpful. Smile
0 Replies
 
Dosed
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2010 06:06 pm
I have a reworked intro if someone would kindly (or unkindly) offer further criticim.


In Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy, René Descartes employs philosophical skepticism by calling into question all things, including perception and analytic beliefs. In doing so, Descartes engages in an extreme hyperbolic doubt of his own existence and virtually everything that surrounds him in both corporeal and mental form. This skepticism is justified in that the foundation of knowledge must be something that is true beyond all circumstance of doubt. By testing each and every entity by doubt, he comes to the conclusion that the only thing he cannot doubt is the doubting itself. This is where the cogito emerges. By looking at the process that Descartes lays out for this skepticism in both Discourse on Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy, it is clear to see that the cogito offers a solid ground for Descartes’ project. This groundwork is able to withstand the doubt imposed upon it. Through the cogito, Descartes finds his foundation of knowledge in reason. He acknowledges that it is not by imagination, but by the mind alone that he is able to perceives, be his perception confused or clear. It is by reason alone that Descartes is able to end the cycle of hyperbolic doubt and essentially establish the basis by which all knowledge and truth, both empirical and analytical, are built upon. However, Descartes’ attempt to collect further substance for truth in God is unreasonable, as he fails to apply the very method of doubt that led him to the cogito in the same way that he finds proof of God’s existence by way of the idea of perfection.

Dosed
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2010 06:08 pm
@Dosed,
to clear up the direction my paper is headed, although I do hope it clearly put in my thesis...

anyway,

I plan to argue that Descartes does not apply the same method of Cartesian doubt to the idea of perfection. He simply accepts the attributes of God (infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc, etc) and perfection as a definition without applying any analytic doubt.

comments? what do you guys think? Please criticize me!! I'm looking for an A on this paper! Smile
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2010 07:08 pm
@Dosed,
Dosed wrote:
Please criticize me!! I'm looking for an A on this paper! Smile
Dont you think it would have been courteous to thank more than one of those who provided a crit earlier?
Dosed
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Sep, 2010 09:34 pm
@ughaibu,
I'm sorry if you were offended by my lack of apology. Sad

I definitely do appreciate the help. Thank you to those who have offered their opinions so far.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 01:11 am
@Dosed,
Dosed wrote:

to clear up the direction my paper is headed, although I do hope it clearly put in my thesis...

anyway,

I plan to argue that Descartes does not apply the same method of Cartesian doubt to the idea of perfection. He simply accepts the attributes of God (infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc, etc) and perfection as a definition without applying any analytic doubt.

comments? what do you guys think? Please criticize me!! I'm looking for an A on this paper! Smile


If God is a perfect being, then what properties would you ascribe to God? It will not do to say that Descartes does not doubt whether these are the properties of a perfect being unless you say why he should doubt they are. The standard criticism of Descartes definition of God here is that one of the properties he ascribes to God is that of existence. In other words, he defines God so that God exists, "by definition". And the question is whether anything can exist by definition, which is to ask whether existence can be a property of anything. (By the way, the best was to ensure not getting an A for the paper-besides not writing it, of course- is to write it with getting an A primarily in mind).
0 Replies
 
mickalos
 
  2  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 03:22 am
@Dosed,
Dosed wrote:

to clear up the direction my paper is headed, although I do hope it clearly put in my thesis...

anyway,

I plan to argue that Descartes does not apply the same method of Cartesian doubt to the idea of perfection. He simply accepts the attributes of God (infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc, etc) and perfection as a definition without applying any analytic doubt.

comments? what do you guys think? Please criticize me!! I'm looking for an A on this paper! Smile

What is this supposed to show? That Descartes doesn't establish the truth of empirical propositions? You need to make your argument clearer; say what you are actually arguing for. Two other points: Descartes has two arguments for the existence of God. If the ontological argument fails he can still rely on the causal argument in the third meditation.

Secondly, Descartes' is a nativist; that is to say he thinks that we have innate ideas. Moreover, he thinks that the idea of God is innate, so by merely reflecting upon it I can read off the content, so to speak. Thus, God's properties (infinity, omnipresence, perfection, etc.) are supposed to be like the properties of other clear and distinct innate ideas such as that of a triangle (e.g. that it's angles add up to 180 degrees). Descartes thinks that he can no more doubt that God is perfect and infinite than he can doubt that the angles in a triangle add up to 180, and you need to say why you think he is wrong about this. Is it possible to argue strongly that he is wrong about this without applying the same criticism to mathematical truths or without undermining his entire system? I'm not sure, it's been a while since I read Descartes, but probably not.

In short, you need to rethink your argument. Sit down for a bit and really think about Descartes arguments, their premises and conclusions. It will be easier to pick holes in them when you have a firmer understanding of his system.

Quote:
If God is a perfect being, then what properties would you ascribe to God? It will not do to say that Descartes does not doubt whether these are the properties of a perfect being unless you say why he should doubt they are. The standard criticism of Descartes definition of God here is that one of the properties he ascribes to God is that of existence. In other words, he defines God so that God exists, "by definition". And the question is whether anything can exist by definition, which is to ask whether existence can be a property of anything. (By the way, the best was to ensure not getting an A for the paper-besides not writing it, of course- is to write it with getting an A primarily in mind).


Interestingly, it is fairly easy to conceive of a necessarily existing being using possible world semantics (whether or not this is a good conceptual model is another matter), which is normally a good test for whether or not something is possible. However, if Descartes God is possible then he actually exists, as he would exist in every possible world, including the actual world, which also means that if Descartes God does not actually exist, then he doesn't exist in any possible world, and is thus impossible. Seemingly, a bit of sense can be given to the notion of necessary existence, but we end up with a rare gap between conceivability and possibility.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 07:35 am
@mickalos,
mickalos wrote:

Dosed wrote:

to clear up the direction my paper is headed, although I do hope it clearly put in my thesis...

anyway,

I plan to argue that Descartes does not apply the same method of Cartesian doubt to the idea of perfection. He simply accepts the attributes of God (infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc, etc) and perfection as a definition without applying any analytic doubt.

comments? what do you guys think? Please criticize me!! I'm looking for an A on this paper! Smile

What is this supposed to show? That Descartes doesn't establish the truth of empirical propositions? You need to make your argument clearer; say what you are actually arguing for. Two other points: Descartes has two arguments for the existence of God. If the ontological argument fails he can still rely on the causal argument in the third meditation.

Secondly, Descartes' is a nativist; that is to say he thinks that we have innate ideas. Moreover, he thinks that the idea of God is innate, so by merely reflecting upon it I can read off the content, so to speak. Thus, God's properties (infinity, omnipresence, perfection, etc.) are supposed to be like the properties of other clear and distinct innate ideas such as that of a triangle (e.g. that it's angles add up to 180 degrees). Descartes thinks that he can no more doubt that God is perfect and infinite than he can doubt that the angles in a triangle add up to 180, and you need to say why you think he is wrong about this. Is it possible to argue strongly that he is wrong about this without applying the same criticism to mathematical truths or without undermining his entire system? I'm not sure, it's been a while since I read Descartes, but probably not.

In short, you need to rethink your argument. Sit down for a bit and really think about Descartes arguments, their premises and conclusions. It will be easier to pick holes in them when you have a firmer understanding of his system.

Quote:
If God is a perfect being, then what properties would you ascribe to God? It will not do to say that Descartes does not doubt whether these are the properties of a perfect being unless you say why he should doubt they are. The standard criticism of Descartes definition of God here is that one of the properties he ascribes to God is that of existence. In other words, he defines God so that God exists, "by definition". And the question is whether anything can exist by definition, which is to ask whether existence can be a property of anything. (By the way, the best was to ensure not getting an A for the paper-besides not writing it, of course- is to write it with getting an A primarily in mind).


Interestingly, it is fairly easy to conceive of a necessarily existing being using possible world semantics (whether or not this is a good conceptual model is another matter), which is normally a good test for whether or not something is possible. However, if Descartes God is possible then he actually exists, as he would exist in every possible world, including the actual world, which also means that if Descartes God does not actually exist, then he doesn't exist in any possible world, and is thus impossible. Seemingly, a bit of sense can be given to the notion of necessary existence, but we end up with a rare gap between conceivability and possibility.


Not everywhere is Oxland. And even maybe Oxland is not Oxland (or, at least, no longer Oxland).
Fil Albuquerque
 
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Reply Fri 24 Sep, 2010 08:02 am
@kennethamy,
As I expected you are a conservative even in this God matter...that there is God and there are other things is a misconception on what God might possibly mean or refer.
0 Replies
 
 

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