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Cartesian Philosophy of Mind
Transcript of Cartesian Philosophy of Mind
The Cogito Argument
"cogito ergo sum"
P1: Anything I can’t doubt is certainly true.
P2: I cannot doubt that I am doubting.
P3: Doubting is a form of thinking.
C1: Therefore, I am thinking.
P4: If I am thinking, then I exist.
C2: I exist.
Descartes is searching for knowledge.
If he knows something, he can't be wrong about it.
Thus, anything he could be wrong about, isn't knowledge.
He could be wrong about anything he could doubt.
Therefore, anything he knows must be indubitable.
What can he not doubt?
Now we have knowledge!
I know that I exist because I cannot doubt that.
The very act of my doubting confirms my existence.
Now that I have this foundation of certainty, what other knowledge can I build upon it?
Why doubt the material world?
The only access you have to the material world is through your senses.
Your senses are often in error.
For example, when you are dreaming your senses are illusory.
My very faculties may be broken.
For example, an evil demon may be constantly deceiving me.
Where do my sensations come from?
Not from me but from some other substance.
Some of my sensations I can actively produce, e.g., through imagination.
But some of my sensations I cannot actively produce.
And many of these sensations that I cannot produce are against my will, e.g., pain.
Therefore, these faculties must come not from myself but from some other substance.
The Next Steps:
In the next section of the "Meditations," Descartes argues the following:
P1. I exist.
P2: I have the idea of a perfect being.
P3: If I have the idea of a perfect being, a perfect being must exist.
C1: A perfect being must exist.
P4: If a perfect being exists, then that being is the source of my ideas and would not be a deceiver.
P5: If the source of my ideas is not a deceiver, then anything I can clearly and distinctly perceive is true.
C2: Anything I clearly and distinctly perceive is true.
P6: I clearly and distinctly perceive that the material world exists and is different from my mental world.
C3: Therefore, the material word exists.
P7: I clearly and distinctly perceive that my mind is different from my body.
C4: Therefore, my mind is different from my body.
So far, I have proven that:
1. I exist.
2. That my essence is thought.
3. That I am not the cause of all my sensations.
I was trying to prove that I can trust my senses to believe in a material world.
What good have I done toward that end?