The Anticipations of Nature are something to be weary about according to Francis Bacon because anticipations are typically based around the ideas of our idols, who likely have differing opinions or worldviews. These anticipations or assumptions about the laws of nature tend to excite us and fulfill our need for explanation about the world. Although most anticipations have little to no facts to back it up, our imaginations’ crave a deeper meaning to life and beyond. Religion is one great example of how the masses across the world anticipate the laws of nature based on stories and prophets rather than seeking the proven truth. It’s in our nature to seek pleasure, so it makes sense that most people feel at ease when all of their notions and questions about life can be summed up into one perfectly packaged religion. Most people are drawn to a religion that affirms their own ideas about the world. Without facts, anticipating any law of nature is like the blind leading the blind.
The idols of the tribe, cave, marketplace, and theatre that we look up to are not reliable sources of knowledge whatsoever because they most likely grew up with completely different backgrounds from our own. Views of the idols should be taken with a grain of salt because they are heavily prejudiced and influenced by their environment or other people’s views. Unlike anticipations, interpretations of nature are a bit more reliable but still hold us back from discovering new perspectives and information. Bacon prefers interpretations of nature over the anticipations because interpretations are usually formed according to evidence based on everyday events and our senses. Rather than accepting false information from prophets, Bacon believes that trial and error of the senses is a much more reliable way to find out the truth. Even though our senses aren’t the most reliable forms of information, it gives us much better insight into the truth about the world around us compared to finding the answers in religion and faith.
Most people tend to assume that if something is universally experienced by the senses, it is fact. Yet, every single person has their own unique perspective of the world that is shaped by our experiences and are responsible for molding our views. Bacon’s main issue with interpretations of nature is that science has been interpreted into concrete laws or facts that hinder us from seeking new or conflicting knowledge about the world. When people stop coming up with new axioms about the world, we fail to make any progress and never see the faults in our old ways of thinking. Our more current and past scientific interpretations should be constantly re-evaluated and tested to ensure accuracy regarding our laws of nature. I personally agree with Bacon about interpretation over anticipation of the laws of nature. I derive more satisfaction out of knowing that an axiom has been tested and is universal instead of filling my brain with unproven, convenient fantasies.
In Meditations on First Philosophy by Descartes, it’s clear that the author is doubting everything from science to religion and acting as a sort of mediator between the two ideas. The idea of dualism is a great tool to use in order to satisfy the perspective of the parties who support science and religion. Dualism shows us that the physical and mental realms can both peacefully exist together on Earth. Descartes is extremely skeptical of his own beliefs because he does not trust anything he learned in school or from others’ life experiences. He believes that what is taught to us in school is sometimes unnecessary, bias, or just contradicts other subjects being taught. Other unreliable sources of information come from trustworthy sources like lawyers, doctors, and politicians but typically stem from completely opposite perspectives from our own. Any information or knowledge coming from the external world is considered too bias or not based in facts and should be incessantly doubted. The concept of Radical Skepticism is to doubt literally everything and is a huge contributor of Descartes’ method. He believes that the only logical way to really determine if something is true is to doubt every part of it until the thought can no longer be doubted.
Descartes’ method for finding the truth about the world makes a lot of sense to me after watching the Matrix and questioning whether or not the world around us is a simulation. Honestly, I’m not skeptical whatsoever in comparison to the thoroughness of Descartes’ method for defeating skepticism. I can’t even fathom trying to analyze and find truth in every single thing I’ve learned in life up until this point. There’s so much media and false information being spewed at us constantly from all directions that no one even thinks to question most things anymore. It’s almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction when every news outlet on television and the internet is considered politically bias nowadays.
Hence, as forward thinking human beings we should never accept the ideas and the realities around us as fact. We should be constantly questioning the basic principles around us and attempt to view them with an internal perspective. The writers of the famous science fiction movie, The Matrix delved into these topics. Specifically when Morpheus is attempting to teach Neo how our minds are much more powerful than we give credit, stating that, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” (Morpheus).
Here, Morpheus is explaining to Neo that he must throw away everything he knows about the world and start thinking in this new fashion. If Neo is not able to accept these new ideas, he will eventually fall victim to the agents coming after him. These thoughts heavily correlate to Descartes’ fundamental thought process for skepticism. Descartes explains in his Discourse on the Method that building on the combined thoughts of others is a false way of thinking. One man is much more likely to reach truths about a society rather than a collective effort of clashing ideals. One will not able to prove certain truths by jumping to conclusions and not allowing oneself to open their mind to inconceivable realities. Also, just because these realities are difficult to understand and go against the norm, does not mean they are false. Rather as responsible members of society we must throw away our established, ungrounded opinions in order to truly prosper.
Descartes doubts everything he once knew about the world in order to create a more concrete foundation for his work in philosophy. The cogito argument explains Descartes’ simple steps in figuring out how to determine that we actually exist in the world. Specifically, Descartes’ most famous phrase “Cogito Ergo Sum” simply means I think, therefore, I am. This phrase is considered the base and first item of knowledge, Descartes conveys this clearly when writing that “without doubt I exist also if he deceives me, and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. So that after having reflected well and carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true” (Descartes, 1-9). The author is explaining how even the notion of contemplating whether one exists is what makes them live. It is the process of thinking that allows one to exist.
It is comical to note that even when humans commit egregious acts of deception, the author is still able to come to the conclusion of our existence. Meaning that people would not be able to deceive or commit any terrible acts if we did not exist at all. It is our thought process as humans that gives us the ability to either love or hate. Additionally, Descartes explains how our senses and other external factors hindering our ability to distinguish what is true or not. So we must doubt and dissect all aspects of our lives with his lengthy method of doubt. Without radical skepticism, we choose to conform to other people’s preexisting notions of the world. Without thinking like an individual, we will never be able to truly understand or form new axioms about our surroundings. Furthermore, if we have the capacity to doubt something, it should be presumed false. If something is actually true, we must take the steps necessary to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Watermark or Perfection argument explains how we are able to even perceive the idea of perfection if it’s something that does not exist on Earth. As a whole, humans are sinful by nature. We are all plagued by lust and gluttony that stems from our innate drive of selfishness. Since we are unable to comprehend perfection, then this idea of perfection must have come from an external source. Therefore, through the lense of Descartes, God must exist because only a perfect entity could shed light on excellence to a group of utterly imperfect souls. Descartes brings up this idea fluently throughout the third through sixth meditations, when writing that “…this it follows, not only that something cannot proceed from nothing, but likewise that what is more perfect— that is to say, which has more reality within itself—cannot proceed from the less perfect. And this is not only evidently true of those effects which possess actual or formal reality, but also of the ideas in which we consider merely what is termed objective reality” (Descartes, 1-15).
Descartes is communicating that as being imperfect beings, we can not just use our own resources to attain perfection. Humanity as a whole is cursed with many flaws that can only be corrected through a higher power. Hence, I believe Descartes’ arguments are not only convincible, but just makes sense on most levels. By thinking, creating a mind and body connection, we can distinguish ourselves to be living. This thought process creates doubt, but it is human nature to doubt what has been told to us. we would not be human if we were not able to have individual thoughts. As productive members of society we should fixate on trying to prove our doubts so humanity can evolve and flourish. Also Descartes writing about perfection being from a divine source is most likely true as well. Humans are inherently selfish, therefore perfection may only be attained through a divine power.
We look at these ideas of religion and science as being concrete but in reality they have been evolving steadily with the times. By doubting the mental and physical substances while also withholding his preference, he allows both fields to coexist. Galileo and Martin Luther both doubted issues and ideas about their society which they perceived to be false. Martin Luther ratifying the Catholic Church correlates to Descartes because he opposed the masses of the time and had original thought which derived from him being an individual. Galileo was a famous astronomer and pioneer of his time with his seemingly outlandish axioms about the Earth and solar system. Luther and Galileo both once doubted everything they had been taught regarding the physical or mental substances just like Descartes once did, which helped them develop the groundbreaking ideas that had never been fathomed before.
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