Descartes and Hegel

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Rene Descartes, in his book Discourse on Method, outlined his ideas regarding his method of doubting everything he thought to be true. His first principle was I think, therefore I am (Descartes 32). Descartes was raised Catholic, and had a strong belief in God and his faith in God gave him comfort although he could not prove the existence of God in a scientific way.

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Descartes believed that animals were machines and what makes humans different from animals is our ability to think and reason. As humans we have the ability to doubt and reject things and reimagine them in our own way. As humans we can reject the ideas of others and form our own ideas and beliefs. We can question what others tell us, and this is how we learn and expand our knowledge. Descartes also believed that those who suffered from mental illness or some other sort of illness or sickness would be unable to learn as much as a healthy person could. Additionally, humans had religion and faith and this could also guide them whereas animals did not.

Descartes believed that each person’s education should be individual and he stressed the significance of gaining knowledge through questioning alleged or what we believed to be truths. Descartes thought that everyone should be his/her own teacher where one could spend time in reflection and thinking, just as he had done when he was in school. Descartes favored developing a scientifically orderly method to questioning basic truths of the physical world. Descartes thought is most important to focus on the study of mathematics and science rather than liberal arts. Anything that had no practical use should be eliminated from study including the ancient languages of Greek and Latin since they were no longer spoken. Descartes was an individualist in his thinking and he took up the question that some people are more intelligent than others and that it is the path that each person follows that will lead him to the knowledge he wants. He believed that while education can provide a person with a foundation of skills and that people should not rely on what others tell them to be true, but to use that information to find their own knowledge and truth.

Hegel had his own ideas about who God was. He did not believe that God was a being like us because if he/she were then he/she would be limited in what he/she could do, like humans are. God is a higher reality that helps us when we need guidance. In Hegel’s interpretation of God, God didn’t just create the world in the beginning, but continues to create throughout and over time.

Hegel had a different way of thinking known as dialectical thinking, and was known as an idealist. Unlike Descartes, Hegel’s way of thinking was not a method or a set of principles as Descartes outlined. Idealism diminishes the human principle to the divine principle. According to Hegel, man or humans are not just a part of the human race but are part of the whole universe because the he is a part of the unity not only of the human race but of the whole universe because the core of both the universe and man is the spirit.

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Descartes and Hegel. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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