According to you, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Descartes’ view of human nature?

According to you, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Descartes’ view of human nature?

There are many methods created by philosopher on exploring the idea of human nature and existence. So for this essay, I will be focusing towards meditations on first philosophy book written by Rene Descartes. The book talks about Descartes meditations on first philosophy and his exploration on the view of human nature and existence of God in this world. Descartes was educated in Jesuit College of La Fleche where he studied mathematics, logic and philosophy. As he was studying mathematics, he was impressed with the certainty of mathematics, which creates doubt and disputes towards him. Descartes wants to start from scratch to build the foundations of all knowledge; therefore he does this by not assuming anything that is doubtful. To which, he starts his argument by containing no doubt. Moreover, his book Meditations on first philosophy, he tries to explain about the six meditations that demonstrate the idea of existence of God and the distinction of body and soul. From the book, there are many strengths and weakness we can give our explanation especially on human nature and existence of God. In this paper, I would like to argue that Descartes proofs of God’s existence are strong but his methodic doubts: “What if I am dreaming?” is weak.
To assure myself that I does not hold as true anything that is false I set myself to doubt everything. I tried to explain about methodic of doubt that was covered the first meditations “Meditation One: Concerning those thing that can be called in doubt” with three scenarios given. I tried to examine what meditator thinks is true and distinguish what can be doubt. And then a question if there is a way to know with certainty what I experience is real or a dream. Furthermore, I would questions whether things exist or if my senses are deceiving me surely whatever I had admitted until now as most true I received either from sense or through the senses. However, I have noticed that the senses are sometimes deceptive; and it is a mark of prudence never to place our complete trust in those who have deceived us even once. (Meditations 14 [18]) For which, everything I feel with my sense can be deceiving to me and even I can be doubtful for who I am. I do found things I perceive by my senses are not always true. Even sometimes, my sense deceive me in a sense, but only on small and distant things (Meditations 14 [18]) So what if I am dreaming and what kind of source of knowledge would become reliable. My mind would often persuades me of such ordinary things for example, that I am sitting here next to the fire, wearing my winter dressing gown, that I am holding this sheet of paper in hands” (Meditations 14 [18]). I would get convinced in my dream as if the object or matter is real. But such things would not be so distinct for someone who is asleep” (Meditations 14, [19]). At least, there are some simple images from reality I could picture it and apply it to my dream. For example, a straw is bent when it is in the water. Therefore, I can point out that knowledge is based on sense, experience and testimony and that it will become doubt and should be rejected. Through this, it gives me a perception that it’s possible for things that are done in life are just a dream or it never even existed. I believe that long time ago a good God is able to do anything and even create me, but I wouldn’t be sure if he really exists. What if an immensely powerful evil genius is constantly deceiving me? An evil genius that direct his entire effort at deceiving me.” (Meditations 16 [22]) This explains of how evil genius are able to deceive me by having an ability to change certainty to doubt. But unfortunately, there is no other way to realize if evil genius really exists, as there are many uncertainty that are not yet to be discussed.
In the second meditation “Meditation Two: Concerning the Nature of the Human Mind: That is Better Known Than the Body” is the continuation of the first meditation one that seems doubtful. The meditator focuses on discussing the problem of uncertainty and doubtful that appears in the first meditation that talks about Evil genius theory and the certainty of his thought either he exists or not. By thinking further and question if I exist.
But doubtless I did exist, If I persuaded myself of something. But there is some deceiver or other who is supremely powerful and supremely sly and who is always deliberately deceiving me. Then too there is no doubt that I exist, if he is deceiving me. And let him do his best at deception, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I shall think I am something. (Meditations 18 [25]).
Therefore, I exist and Evil genius cannot separate it. “I am; I exist- this is certain, but for how long? (Meditations 19[27]) As long as I could think, I am exist and there are no doubt about the existence of my body. Therefore, I figure out that I cannot be separated from my thought.
In the third meditation “Meditation Three: Concerning God, That He Exists”,
Everything in this world will become a lie if God does not exist but yet evil genius exists. Therefore if I prove that God exists and that he is not deceiver, than I will be able to say that evil genius scenario is impossible. And if the evil genius scenario is false, I will be able to trust whatever I perceive in a clear and distinct way. How can I be certain about anything, when I am sure that I am a thinking thing? Therefore it would be important for me to prove the existence of God and that prove that he is not a deceiver. From these considerations it is quite obvious that he cannot be a deceiver, for it manifest in the light of nature that all fraud and deception depend on some defect. (Meditations 35 [52]) Therefore, I begin by exploring the content of my mind, which are my thoughts and group them into three classes. The first category is judgments, it is considered as statements or claims it can be either true or false. For example when I considered something very simple and easy in the areas if arithmetic or geometry, for example that two plus three make five. (Meditations 25 [36]) The second category is ideas, I describes it as: “Some of thoughts are like images of things; to these alone does word “idea” properly apply, as when I think of a man, or a chimera, or the sky, or an angel, or God” (Meditations 25 [37]). Ideas are like images of things in our mind that are like image that represent when we think of something. Last category is volitions and affect which is our intentions, emotions, fear and love. (Meditations 25 [37]). Well, these ideas can be divided into three types depending on the way they seem to originate: Innate, Adventitious, Produced by me. Innate ideas are inborn ideas which meant that it already exist in me, but not present if they are not recalled. Whereas, adventitious ideas are ideas that are coming from outside, for example, I find within myself two distinct ideas of the sun. One idea is drawn, as it were, from senses…But there is another idea, one derived from astronomical reasoning, that is, it is elicited from certain notions that are innate in me, or else is fashioned by me in some other way. (Meditations 27 [39]) Lastly ideas that are produced by me are product of imagination that does not depend upon my will. (Meditations 27 [39]) The meditator gives proofs about the existence of God. He mentioned in Meditations on First Philosophy with his three proofs of God’s Existence.I understand by the name ‘God’ a certain substance that is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent and supremely powerful, and that created me along with everything else that exists” (Meditations 30 [45]). Therefore, I know the idea of a perfect and infinite being comes from outside of him – from a perfect being that exist, God. Everything must have a cause, the fact that my idea of God represents an infinitely perfect being if there were no such being outside me. Everything that exists has a cause, which brought it into existence and preserves its existence, with my conception of God being that who possess all perfections. Therefore God exists.
He who also creates becomes certain since he puts himself as the greatest things in the world. Moreover, the key role of God in certainty is important since he can do everything that he wants. It is mention in Meditations on First Philosophy “But once I perceived that there is a God, and also understood at the same time that everything else depends on him, and that he is not a deceiver, I then concluded that everything that I clearly and distinctly perceive is necessarily true.” (Meditations 46 [70]).
In the sixth meditation “Meditation Six: Concerning the existence of corporeal reality and the mind/body relation”, the meditator is trying explores his opinion about the changing of his doubt from the first meditation. As I exist then I have no doubt about the existence of my senses and many others. The mind can still be existed without the body and therefore body and mind could be separated by the power of God. To which how my ability clearly and distinctly to understand one thing is different from the other, suffices to make me certain that the one thing is different from the other, since they can be separated from each other, at least God. (Meditations 51 [81]) Also the meditator put his second meditation in the sixth meditation to explain that he exists because he is a thinking thing. You can be a thinking thing without having perception and imagination. That allows me to make an hypothesis: perhaps I am endowed with perception and imagination only because my mind happens to attached to a body. For I could never be separated from it in the same way I could be from other bodies. I senses all appetites and feelings in an on behalf of it… which when I call hunger, warn me to have something to eat, or why should dryness in the throat warn me to have drink, and so on? (Meditations 50 [76]) This shows that my body and I are one. And that the thinking thing is modify when it is attached to a body, an imagination and perception only because my mind is interfaced with the body. For example, I am not in my body like a sailor in a ship, because I feel pain, pleasure, hunger, and thirst, in the body. (Meditations 53 [81]) But oddly, a human being is the union of two completely different substances.
In conclusion on the argument that Descartes provides, I felt that the strongest is the meditation that proves the existence of God. As christen, we believe that God is the creator of all things and without God there will be no cause. He is finite and imperfect who exist. However, what I felt is that Descartes weakest part is when he portray his first meditation about his second methodic doubts, “What if I am dreaming?” Although, he admits that is not way to falsely distinguish being asleep and awake in his sixth meditation, I should say he should not doubt it first. Dreams can seem to be real or even real. For example, when a person had a deja vu. Deja vu is when someone had experience something in the past where it might actually happen or not. Therefore, when it happens it normally happened in our dreams or when it happens it could happen without us knowing.

                           

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