PHL471: Descartes's Meditations V
Descartes's Meditations V
- Having explained error, Descartes is now going to clean
up and identify the kinds of things that he can be confidant
- He starts with ideas: he will determine what is clear
and distinct in his mind, since these are the true things
- I have many clear and distinct ideas of things, such
as mathematical objects. These appearances may not correspond
to things which actually exist, but they are something.
- Since, for example, the properties of a triangle are
undeniable -- I could not will them to be otherwise -- they
must be independent of me.
- By the way, one should observe that just as I cannot
think of a triangle without 3 sides, I cannot think of God
- These arguments illustrate again that the things that
I confidantly know exist are those things I clearly and distinctly
- Seeing clearly and distinctly requires some effort. Some
truths will not be seen clearly and distinctly by me, since I
will not focus fully on them.
- Descartes has established how we get knowledge: primarily
through reason. This is his rationalism: I best understand
things, even material objects, through reason.
- Descartes has established how we justify beliefs and
determine that they are konwledge: via foundationalism. He
has now neary finished his foundationalist project. He has
built a foundation on the existence of both the self and a
benevolent God, and from this derived something like our
everyday experience of the world.
- His working standard for rational truths are those ideas
we perceive clearly and distinctly.
- His next step are to complete some observations about
the nature of mind and body, and their relation.