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Transcript of Rene Descartes
René Descartes (1596–1650), French philosopher and scientist .
Alternate method of epistemology.
Proofs of God/Dualism.
Cartesian plane, optics etc.
He was a sickly child.
attended the Jesuit College for 8 years (1606-1604) and studied philosophy based on the philosophies of Aristotle
Left school as soon as possible.
1618 Joined army in the Netherlands, lead to traveling.
The New Method: Why we need it, What it is, How do we use it?
New epistemology is empiricism, and the ensuing skepticism. He set out to prove that could be sure of something. But first, he needed a new system.
Cogito Ergo Sum
1) Pretend I know nothing and all of what I think I perceive is an illusion, How do I know I exist?
2) I know I exist because I am thinking, that is all I need
Existence of God
The division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided.
Descartes created and used the concept of Dualism to describe the relationship between mind and body
He proved that the mind could exist seperately from the body
"Our convictions and thoughts are much more determined by custom and culture than by anything else. "
"Other systems have been pieced together by many men, it would be more cohesive if they were designed by one man. "
A new system!
A new simplified system that is based on reason alone that is constructed by an individual, me!
Best I can do!
"Obey the laws and customs of my country, holding constantly to the religion in which by God’s grace I had been instructed from my childhood, and governing myself in all other matters."
Do not fall into doubt
"My second maxim was to be as firm and decisive in my actions as I could, and to follow even the most doubtful opinions, once I had adopted them, as constantly as if they had been quite certain."
You only truly control yourself.
"My third maxim was to try always to master [myself] rather than [how things stand in the world]."
Do not stray, else you will never achieve anything.
"Without wanting to say anything about other people’s occupations, I thought it would be best for me to continue with the very one I was then engaged in, and devote my whole life to cultivating my reason and advancing as far as I could in the knowledge of the truth, following my self-imposed method."
What does this give me?
Our actions depend on our judgement: good judgement.
"The first was never to accept anything as true if I didn’t have evident knowledge of its truth: that is, carefully to avoid jumping to conclusions and preserving old opinions, and to include in my judgments only what presented itself to my mind so vividly and so clearly that I had no basis for calling it in question."
Divide and conquer
"The second [was] to divide each of the difficulties I examined into as many parts as possible and as might be required in order to resolve them better."
Work from the ground up:
"The third [was] to direct my thoughts in an orderly manner, by starting with the simplest and most easily known objects in order to move up gradually to knowledge of the most complex, and by stipulating some order even among objects that have no natural order of precedence."
Check your work!
"And the last [was] to make all my enumerations so complete, and my reviews so comprehensive, that I could be sure that I hadn’t overlooked anything."
Results: Unquestionable proofs
Science comes from philosophy thus, with strong philosophy comes strong science
Could not rely on experience and was able to root up previous assumptions and counter his skepticism.
Results of the Method
"It is more perfect to know than it is do doubt
Because I doubt I am an imperfect being
Where did I get the ability to think of something more perfect than I am
From something perfect obviously
That perfection is God."
Is the study of geometry using a coordinate system and the principles of algebra and analysis.
Part of mathematics concerned with finding slope of curves, areas under curves, minims and maxims, and other geometric and analytic problems.
The First Discource
“consider light as nothing else ... than a certain movement or action, very rapid and very lively, which passes toward our eyes through the medium of the air and other transparent bodies”
Why does it matter?
This account of the physiology of vision actually fits into his larger philosophical system.
Today, scholars continue wrestling with Descartes’ account of light and his derivations of the laws of reflection and refraction and it continues to influence later thinkers such as Nicholas Malebranche and George Berkeley.
Leads To Evolution
The Second DIscource