Descartes' Method of Doubt

Descartes
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Philosophy
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Descartes’ Method of Doubt In the Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes sets out on his goal to rebuild modern science and philosophy, and to establish a foundation for others to follow. He is deeply bothered by the idea that everything he has come to think he knows can be questioned or doubted…

Introduction

Also in the introductory remarks, Descartes very clearly explains why he believes that leveling all of his beliefs and starting over is the only way to cure science from false and uncertain beliefs. Reason now leads me to think that I should hold back my assent from opinions which are not completely certain and indubitable just as carefully as I do from those which are patently false. So, for the purpose of rejecting all my opinions, it will be enough if I find in each of them at least some reason for doubt (Descartes, 12). He does not want to simply eliminate the beliefs that he knows for certain are false. He wishes to find indubitable knowledge, and the only way to accomplish this is to reject every belief he possibly can--from the obviously false beliefs to the beliefs that have only the most remote and improbable reason for doubt. Descartes then advances to the first category of beliefs he wishes to cast doubt on--beliefs gained from the senses. Descartes points out that most of the beliefs he is most certain of come from the senses, but that he has noticed that the senses sometimes are deceiving, such as “with respect to objects which are very small or in the distance” (Descartes, 13). ...
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