Descartes’ Meditations 1-6

Meditation I :

Descartes decides that in order to find at least one thing that is completely certain he will reject any belief in which he can find any “ground for doubt.”

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1. The first set of beliefs he considers are those based on the senses. On what ground does he find it possible to doubt the things he believes on the basis of his senses?

2.Next he considers simple truths of mathematics, like 2+3=5. What advantage do these beliefs have over beliefs based on the senses?

3. Beliefs based on the senses and even beliefs based on the simple truths of mathematics can be doubted because of the possibility of deception on a grand scale. Who or what does he suggest could possibly deceive him about everything?

Meditation II :

Descartes discovers that one thing is certain and beyond doubt.

1. What is the first thing/person Descartes proves the existence of? Why is this certain?

2. What is Descartes’ answer to the question, what kind of thing am I?

3. How is a thinking thing different from the wax he describes?

4. At the end of Meditation II has Descartes established that he has a body?

Meditation III :

1. What three sources of ideas does Descartes mention?

2. What does Descartes say about the idea of God? What is the efficient cause of the idea of God?

3. How does Descartes answer the question, “from what source would I have derived my existence?”

Meditation IV :

1. What does Descartes say about God-given abilities?

2. What in him does Descartes say has no limits?

3. Why do we make errors/mistakes?

4. We’ll never make mistakes if we restrict ourselves to only considering what kind of things?

Meditation Five :
1. In Meditation Five, Descartes give us an ontological argument for the existence of God; namely; God is not a deceiver. Why do you think that it is necessary for Descartes to establish that God is not a deceiver?

2. According to Descartes, What do knowledge and truth dependent on?

Meditation Six :

1. In Meditation Six, Descartes give us a second argument for his dualism. He makes the distinction between and thinking thing and an extended thing. How does the thinking thing differ from the extending thing? (We talk about this in class)

2. Does Descartes believe that he is intimately joined with his body? And if so why?

3. What does Descartes liken the body too?

4. If the mind and body interact where does this take place according to Descartes?

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