Descartes the meditations study guide
Terms in this set (9)
What does it mean to call the science of Descartes and Galileo mechanistic? How does this differ from Aristotle?
Aristotle believed in empiricism, meaning allsubstantive knowledge is known through the senses. Mechanistic means that the explanations of events are in terms of the lawful interactions between pieces of matter.
What is the difference between rationalism and empiricism?
Empiricists believe that all a priori knowledge is non-substantive. Rationalists believe that some substantive knowledge is known a priori.
What are the functions of our knowledge? What is the method of doubt?
The method of doubt consists of three stages of scenarios meant to cast doubt on the trustworthiness of our senses. Stage 1: our senses are unreliable when it comes to things that are very small or far away, but that does not give us reason to doubt things up close and middle sized. Stage 2: the dreaming doubt: even if we are dreaming, we cannot doubt the simple and universal things. Stage 3: the defective origins doubt: it is possible I am created by an evil demon, and must believe that nothing delivered to me by my senses is certain.
What is the Aristotelian view of the mind? How many faculties does the mind have? What role do each of the faculties play in the acquisition of knowledge?
Aristotle believed in empiricism. He mind has three faculties: The senses, the imagination, and reason. The senses act like a copy machine, creating sensory images that are sent to the imagination. The imagination acts like memory by storing the sensory images and using them to create new ideas. Reason operates on the images by deriving generalizations about them.
What is the cogito reflection, and how does this show the Aristotelian view of the mind is mistaken?
The cogito reflection is Descartes attempt to show the error in empiricism and to establish rationalism. He shows that Aristotle is wrong because reason alone was able to apprehend the following things without the senses: 1. I exist, 2. I am essentially a thinking thing, 3. Material things are essentially extended.
What is the difference between empirical knowledge and a priori knowledge?
Empirical knowledge is the things that can only be known through observation. A priori knowledge is the things that can be known without observation.
What is the truth rule? What must Descartes prove in order to trust the truth rule? How does he prove this?
The truth rule: "whatever I clearly and distinctly perceive is true." He must prove that God exists. He proves this by starting with the fact that he has an idea of absolute perfection. Then, he uses the Principle of Sufficient Reason: a. More perfect cannot come from less perfect, b. All things that exist have a reason, c. Something cannot come from nothing. He knows these things: 1. I have an idea of absolute perfection, 2. It must come from somewhere, 3. There are four possible sources of this idea: 1. Derived from another idea, 2. Invented the idea himself, 3. Learned from someone else, 4. An absolutely perfect being placed this idea in him mind. He cancels out the first three, therefore, an absolutely perfect being placed this idea in his mind. Thus, an absolutely perfect being (God) exists.
How important is God to Descartes project of justifying the new mechanistic science of Galileo? How does he vindicate our senses?
It is God who acts like a bridge between Descartes's knowledge of the content in his mind and the existence of material objects. He vindicates our senses by this: if my natural inclinations lead me to false beliefs, then that would make god a deceiver, but god is not a deceiver. Therefore, my natural inclinations do not lead me to false beliefs.
What is Descartes's view on human persons? How does he argue that we have an immaterial part (a soul) responsible for our thought and consciousness?
Descartes views human persons as body/soul compound. His Modal Argument is this: 1. Whatever is conceivable is certain. 2. I can conceive myself existing without a body. 3. If I possibly exist without a body, that means I do not equal my body. Therefore, it is not my body that thinks. I have some part distinct from my body that does the thinking. Thus, I have an immaterial soul which can survive the death of my body.