Questions tagged [descartes]

Questions related to René Descartes (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650)

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77
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20answers
34k views

Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false?

I've heard it postulated by some people that "we can't truly know anything". While that does seem to apply to the vast majority of things, I can't see how 'cogito ergo sum' can possibly be false. ...
17
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3answers
5k views

What is the modern solution to the mind-body problem for those who still hold the mind is separate?

René Descartes gave us the problem of how the mind interacts with the body in its modern formulation. Essentially, he asked how the incorporeal mind was able to influence the material body. He also ...
11
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4answers
2k views

“Because if you doubt that you're doubting, you're still doubting” - What is the analogous mathematical/logical expression to this sentence?

In an answer here, the following was stated: The essence of his [Descartes] argument is that you can doubt almost everything about the world, but you can't doubt that you're doubting. Because if ...
10
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5answers
650 views

How far can/should one press philosophical doubt?

Should we keep on questioning until nothing is left to question or is there a point on which we need to stand (which we often tend to do)? Descartes used 'I think' as this fixed point where the ...
10
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1answer
944 views

Does the Simulation Argument differ in essence from the Evil Genius puzzle?

I recently read an article that suggested we might be able to determine if we are part of a computer simulation run by our descendants. The idea seemed far-fetched, but after looking around, I see ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Defenses of Descartes's rationality in regards to “cogito” fallacy?

What philosophers and in what writings, if any, have attempted to explain or defend Descartes's rationalism in respect to the "cogito ergo sum" fallacy pointed out by philosophers like Russell, and ...
8
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1answer
150 views

Where to find Descartes’ violin player analogy?

I really tried finding the original passage where Descartes lays out the following argument: Descartes himself anticipated an objection like this and argued that dependence does not strongly ...
8
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1answer
905 views

Roko's Basilisk as Descartes' evil genius?

I'll try to pose a shortened version of Roko's Basilisk below and then ask about how it relates to Descartes' evil genius: The idea is that down the line may it be decades or centuries from now, ...
7
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5answers
542 views

Has there been a Cartesian revolution in mathematics?

In his book "Méthodes modernes en géométrie", Jean Fresnel wrote: il ne faut pas se faire d'illusions, Descartes résout des problème de géométrie, non parce qu'il a de la méthode, mais parce qu'...
7
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4answers
1k views

Contemporary proponents of Cartesian dualism

I have to find examples of contemporary philosophers who accept Cartesian dualism. Who would be the most important proponent? While philosophers who reject physicalism (e.g. David Chalmers, Thomas ...
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6answers
7k views

Can our sense of touch deceive us?

Descartes says that the senses deceive us. I agree for all senses, except for the tactile sense (i.e., when you touch something). It's clear there are optical illusions, but there appear to be no ...
6
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3answers
498 views

How does Descartes use god in his Meditations?

How does Descartes use god to avoid answering certain questions directly?
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3answers
2k views

How would Descartes respond to Wittgenstein's objection to radical doubt?

From what I understand, Descartes wrote refutations to criticisms made of his Meditations. I'm just interested in what he would say to Wittgenstein, who I think has the most compelling critique of ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Did Descartes really doubt the existence of God?

I've learned about Descartes' universal doubt and as I understood it, he says mind that is supposed to interact with God isn't part of res extensa and therefore isn't part of the senses we can doubt. ...
6
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1answer
3k views

How does Descartes determine that the idea of God has more objective reality than finite substance?

Descartes's third meditation, which sets out to prove the existence of God from previous considerations, confuses me greatly. Descartes appears to be trying to make an argument that the source must ...
6
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1answer
270 views

Has Descartes also been analyzed from a psychological point of view, including the circumstances of his time?

One way to look at "cogito ergo sum" is as an interesting intellectual thought. But Descartes clearly indicates that he actually had this thought in winter 1619 under very special circumstances: I ...
6
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1answer
238 views

what is the difference between Descartes and Quentin Meillassoux in understanding the term of “Cogito”?

Having read Quentin Meillassoux's 《After Finitude》, I am still quite puzzled by the way he illustrating the 'Cogito, ergo sum' as his start-point to criticize on Kant. Kant established the ...
6
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4answers
217 views

Can there be intention without an intender?

Many refutations of Descartes cogito go along the line of: All Descartes really proved is that thinking is happening, but there can be thinking without there being a thinker to do the thinking. Just ...
5
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5answers
885 views

Does the concept of existence entail the concept of death?

Does the concept of existence entail the concept of death? I am asking this because many philosophers have tried to prove the existence of god (Descartes through the Meditations) by saying that he ...
5
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4answers
201 views

Was Descartes the first one to approach metaphysics epistemologically?

In his method Descartes approaches the questions of the first philosophy, i.e. metaphysics, via the method of doubt. One could say that he has an epistemological approach, by first asking what he can ...
5
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3answers
843 views

“I think, therefore I am” - How does “I” establish “I” before “I” can “think”?

The famous Cogito ergo sum opens with "I" can think, therefore "I" am. How does "I" establish "I" before "I" can "think"? in other words how did "I" establish "I" before it could think in the first ...
5
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2answers
425 views

Does Cogito ergo sum need to be more specific?

Something about my translation has bothered me since I originally posted my question (which follows below). It concerns what Bertrand Russell wrote in "On Denoting". Ryno indicated a circularity with ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Did Wittgenstein's maxim about doubt and knowing originate from Descartes?

Wittgenstein said, "If you cannot doubt a thing, you cannot know it." For example he said that you cannot know your pain because you cannot doubt that you are in pain. I don't quite understand this ...
5
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1answer
422 views

How does Descartes make contact with the world?

Descartes' cogito allows him to deny extreme sceptism; but then how does he actually make contact with the world as opposed to saying - I exist and the world is my (unconscious) invention -, i.e. ...
5
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2answers
218 views

What is Descartes arguing for in the text below?

Now it is indeed evident by the light of nature that there must be at least as much [reality] in the efficient and total cause as there is in the effect of that same cause. For whence, I ask, could an ...
5
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1answer
607 views

What does Hegel think of Descartes' argument in Meditation 4?

In Meditation 4, Descartes argues that we can still regard God's creation of humans as perfect even though humans err. Descartes' arguments goes something like this: Human beings have multiple ...
5
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4answers
628 views

How was Descartes sure that his doubt was his own?

We recently studied about Descartes in school and my teacher said that Descartes was a sceptic, he doubted everything and had an idea of creator who decieves us. But the only thing he didn't doubt ...
5
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1answer
118 views

What does Descartes mean by God could alter the truth of mathematical theorems, but not laws of nature?

Stumbled upon this statement in Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow's The Grand Design According to Descartes, God could at will alter the truth or falsity of ethical propositions or ...
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2answers
1k views

Questions on the second meditation by Descartes

Upon reading the second meditation of Descartes, I am perplexed by an illustration Descartes presents involving wax. For reference, this illustration, or argument, is contained within the 11th and ...
5
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4answers
415 views

Could a philosophical zombie conclude “cogito ergo sum”?

Could a philosophical zombie conclude "cogito ergo sum"? Assume a philosophical zombie which is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks ...
5
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1answer
113 views

If Descartes was not a ‘Cartesian’ dualist, who was?

Some scholars have made the argument that a careful reading of Descartes shows (for example, see his ship-sailor-analogy) that he himself did not actually believe in a dualism of the proverbial ‘ghost ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Does Descartes prove that he isn't dreaming?

I had a midterm question where this was relevant, essentially it was: "Assuming you're an atheist, how would you prove to Descartes that your last vacation wasn't a dream?" I put that since ...
4
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2answers
681 views

Is Descarte putting the cart before the horse when he says 'cogito ergo sum'?

Famously Descartes said 'Cogito ergo sum'. I'm a bit puzzled by this. I do not need to think in order to assert/understand/intuit that I exist: when I wake up in the morning I immediately intuit that ...
4
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4answers
331 views

Who was Descartes trying to refute when he came up with his cogito?

The IEP article on Descartes states that Descartes states that his purpose in showing that the human mind or soul is really distinct from the body is to refute those “irreligious people” who only ...
4
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2answers
182 views

What historical or doctrinal problems provoked Descartes' “Cogito”?

Descartes' Meditations and Discourse apply a radical scepticism towards knowledge in order to finally refute it, founding certainty on the immediacy of self-knowledge, usually considered the great ...
4
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4answers
964 views

Descartes vs Buddha - Was Descartes wrong?

Descartes imagined an Evil Demon to suggest that the external world could be a complete illusion. This Evil Demon would have the power to trick all your senses. This idea is similar to the Buddhist ...
4
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4answers
157 views

Is there a flaw in my construction of Descartes' argument?

I'm having a difficult time thinking of any flaw in Descartes argument. You can coherently imagine yourself without your physical body. If you can coherently imagine X, then you have reason to ...
4
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2answers
459 views

Did Descartes view “cogito ergo sum” as applying only to himself?

I'm not a philosophical expert, but I'm wondering. Isn't it contradictory that Descartes, using his cogito, wants to both (a) prove that he exists and is uncertain of others and (b) provides a proof ...
4
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1answer
134 views

How do I read the SEP citations for a particular author where there are numbers at the end of the sentence as a citation?

How do I read the SEP citations for a particular author where there are numbers at the end of the sentence as a citation? An example from the SEP article on Descartes: "Descartes had a different ...
4
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1answer
76 views

What is a simple book summarizing Cartesian philosophy?

I know a bit of French, so I can read Descartes' work directly, but I would prefer to start with a simple book which summarizes descartes' philosophy.
4
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1answer
874 views

What is the relation between Descartes' “lumen naturale”, God and logic?

This is not a question about the cogito argument in the closer sense. I will try to isolate my questions from the other questions posted concerning Descartes. If I understood what I've read correctly,...
4
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1answer
266 views

Descartes's concept of the Immutability of the Divine Will

According to the abstract of this article1, ... Descartes' God acts by a single immutable will for all eternity, and there is no sense in which it is possible for Him to will or to have willed ...
4
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2answers
232 views

Objective reality vs. illusion in Descartes' time

Descartes' argument for god includes his idea of "objective reality", id est, clear and distinct perception implies existence. Considering his own scientific bent of mind, I'm curious to know what he ...
4
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1answer
445 views

How to understand Nozick's response to Descartes's Skeptical Argument?

Consider the following Skeptical Argument: P1. You do not know that you are not a brain in a vat. P2. You know that if you have hands, then you are not a brain in a vat P3. If you know that A, and ...
4
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1answer
223 views

What is the analytic-synthetic dilemma concerning existence?

Reading a paper on Descartes I found the following summary of criticism: Stuart Hampshire, on the one hand, emphasizing the indubitability required of the principle by Descartes, concludes that ...
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5answers
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Why can't I doubt that I am doubting?

Assume that doubt is meaningfully defined. Or let's say we define doubt as , both the statement under doubt, and it's complement can be true or false, we do not know, the uncertainty exists. Imagine ...
4
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2answers
202 views

Descartes and why the mind is perceived more evidently than the body

So i am currently reading Descartes Second Meditation and i am not sure if i understand the wax argument, i will try to write out how i understand it and I would appreciate any input. He shows ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Clear and distinct

Descartes talks about clear and distinct perceptions, in which clear means 'what is present and accessible to the attentive mind' and distinct means 'being clear and sharply seperated from all other ...
4
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3answers
282 views

Does Descartes' cogito require awareness of thinking?

Descartes cogito is 'I think therefore I am'. Can an ant do the same? Breaking this down, one has 'I think' and I am aware that 'I am thinking' and therefore 'I am'. One requires here it seems some ...
3
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4answers
359 views

Sum ergo cogito?

Following Descartes but in the opposite direction: I exist. Something has made the assertion in the previous sentence and must have thought it to do so. Therefore my thoughts exist. Combining with ...