IB Philosophy Core: Descartes Meditation 2

Summary of Descartes' Meditation 2

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  • Created by: Milly
  • Created on: 25-04-13 20:59
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  • Descartes Second Meditation
    • Main points
      • Concludes that doubt is a form of thought, so he must be conscious and exist
      • Cogito ergo sum
        • I think therefore I am
        • Not  directly referred to in Descartes' meditations, but alludes to its meaning
          • sum res cogitans
        • Deductive syllogism
          • Consists of major and minor premise with a conclusion
      • Ergo sum, ergo existo
        • I am , I exist
        • Self  evident andnecessarytruth
        • Writes this instead of I think therefore I am
      • Wax block argument
        • If objects do exist and undergo phase change, then the only characteristics they maintain are extension, flexibility and changeablity
        • As wax melts everything that we perceive through our sense perceptions to define wax changes
        • He knows wax is wax through intellect alone
          • Only humans are able to understand, animals perceive changes in the wax but do not understand
          • Our senses and our imagination are limited to what can be determined, whereas our minds can conceptualise the infinite.
        • The mind is 'better known than the body' because he can see it 'clearly and distinctly'
    • Objections
      • There is thinking - no proof of who the thinker is
        • Ayer
        • Free floating thought
      • There is a thinker but not a proof that the momentary fragments of thinking are linked to a continuous self like Descartes 'I'
        • Russell
          • Are we the same self as 5 years ago, though we have substantially changed
          • No coherent argument given to the permanence of the thinker
      • Descartes might prove awareness of pre consciousness but no direct association with 'I'
      • Cogito ergo sum
        • Enthymatic syllogism
          • He misses a premise which would be 'All thinking things exist'
            • He would be assuming thinking things exist which he has not proven
      • Wax argument
        • Empiricists argue that Descartes cannot rely on the wax argument as he uses sense experience to understand the initial characteristics of object
          • In response Descartes may argue that he is not yet trying to prove that external objects exist, merely that if they do then extension is their only characteristic


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