Reflection on Descartes’ Second Meditation
This essay will be about my reflection on the second meditation from this work. Firstly, I will write the reflection and then will conclude by the giving context to it. As in ancient time Archimedes seek to find at least one immovable, stable point in order to move the entire world, Descartes was looking to find at least one thing in which he could be certain about. So that he began to assume that everything in this world is false and he cannot be sure about it; he is being deceived and actually he did not have any senses and memory.
No one can be certain about even unchangeable things such as shapes, places and extension, hence they always change and being false. So what is true in that world? Descartes suggests that the only thing that is true in that world is the fact that nothing is true and certain. However, if there is nothing certain in the world, can there be something that is not concerned even by the slightest occasion of doubt? Descartes assumes that if it is not God, who sends him these ideas, it could be himself.
Earlier he persuaded himself that nothing exist in this world so that his body and senses are also do not exist, so he is full of doubt whether he exists without his body and senses or not. After that he comes to conclusion that if he could persuade himself that there is no his body, no his senses, no sky above him, it does not mean that He (I in the view of Descartes) does not exist as well. Since he has persuaded Himself, this He is staying constant in every stage of the question and argument, unchanged and stable.
This He is the firm Archimedean point for Descartes from which he can begin his journey to understanding what is true and completely certain. As he found the starting point for his meditations, he concerned about what is this I? Before coming to this conslusion he thought that he was a man, who has a body, which is biologically originated; and the soul, about of the origin of which he did not think a lot.
However, then he assumed that the highest power in the world is an Evil God who deceives him, so there is no confidence about the existence of body and the soul. After he finds his «Archimedean point», – the understanding that «I» always exist – he recognizes that the only thing making this point to be is the idea, or thinking. Thinking that is not separable from the I: so I am and I exist as long as I think that I exist. Even if the Evil God deceives him, there is an immovable and firm I for Descartes that is being deceived.
It can be concluded that «At least I know that I am something». Then in order to understand the concept of the «Descartes’ Archimedean point» better he suggests to look at it from the different angle, or by looking at corporeal things that can be examined by senses, as they are better known than the surreal «I» and gives an example of the wax. So as we concluded «I» is the idea that as long as I think I exist: from the given example of wax we can see how intellect perceive the idea.
At the beginning wax is solid and cold, so that we feel it as it is; after we heet it a bit it becomes liquid, so that feeling very differently. The same situation is about sight: we see a solid piece of wax laying, but after it being heeted we see water, but we know that it is piece of wax. We still perceive it as the wax, even if our senses say us something different. Therefore the perception comes only through intelligence and through understanding of the idea: finally, I recognize that nothing can be perceived better than my own mind.
Descartes wrote six meditations every one of which is concerning his way of searching certainty and topics of the God and soul somehow. First meditation is about the reasons, why people should doubt everything they know and how can we know reality. This piece of his work is similar to the work of eastern philosopher al Ghazali, because they both assume that we cannot rely on our senses, due to the fact that senses always deceive us. We perceive the world through senses, and most of our beliefs are based on them.
Descartes thinks that all of our beliefs change as time goes by, and because we do not know, which of them will change exactly, we should be suspicious about all of them – the problem of finding certainty arises: so first conclusion that we make from the reading is that nothing is certain. At the second meditation he speaks on the topic of the beginning of the understanding of what is certain, through the finding the most certain thing in the world – “I am”, and the nature of the thinking of people, that it is the most important in identification of certainty.
The third meditation talks about the first cause of the all ideas in the world. According to Descartes, cause must be at least as real as or more real than the effect, so that idea could be created only by something that is significantly more than it, so he assumes that it is the God. Before he was saying that God is evil and deceiving, but in Meditation five he says that God is not deceiving, but all-powerful and the most perfect one of all. In his work Descartes clearly showed his genius of a philosopher, applying understandable examples explaining the essential knowledge of our nature and universe.
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