Throughout the book Meditations, Descarte discusses three different methods of doubt. Those three methods are referred to as the Argument from Sensory Illusion, which in short says that sometimes our senses may deceiving us in believing things are real when in truth they are deceptions our mind has created. The next method is the Dream argument, which says that often we dream so vividly in our sleep that we sometimes take them to be real events actually happening to us, and that any event in time could actually just be a dream that we are having. The last method is called the Evil Demon Argument, and it states that anything that could possibly be deceiving cannot be used as a reliable source of knowledge, based on the fact that that deception could be caused by an evil demon that uses deception to fool you about the possible existence of another external world.
The first stage of doubt, the Argument of Sensory Illusion, not only talks about how we can be deceived by our senses, but also how if something is possible to happen sometimes, then it is possible to happen all the time. In the beginning of the book, Descartes says, Whatever I have accepted until now as most true has come to me through my senses. But occasionally I have found that they have deceived me, and it is unwise to trust completely those who have deceived us even once(Descartes 28). This is a prime example of his argument because in it he explains that he used to rely so heavily on his sense, but now he sees how deceiving that they have been in his life, and how he cannot trust them the same as he has before.
Stage two is the Dream Argument, which explains the level of deception that our dreams have on us if we are to believe them. He explains that sometimes our dreams appear so real that we confuse them for real life. He talks about this by saying, As if I didn’t remember other occasions when I have been tricked by exactly similar thoughts while asleep(Descartes 31). He says this to show that he remembers clear examples of times his own dreams have made him believe something that was false.
The last stage is the Demon Argument, and it is said that there is a malicious demon that will constantly deceive you, and how anything that can be twisted or deceiving should not be trusted as a truthful thing. He first mentions the demon in the statement, So I shall suppose that some malicious, powerful, cunning demon has done all he can to deceive me??”rather than this being done by God, who is supremely good and the source of truth(Descartes 86). His meaning behind this quote is to suggest that God cannot be held liable for the deception because he is nothing but supremely good, so it has to be a demon doing all of the lying and deceiving.
With stages two and three, there is a giant difference between them. With Descartes Dream Argument, it questions whether our whole lives are just one giant dream, and none of it is real. While the Demon argument suggest that everything we know isn’t true and that we can’t trust our senses with anything, the Dream Argument just says that we can still rely on our senses for somethings, while other we cannot trust to just our senses.
The third stage is so necessary for this book because it offers a second view of how we might be deceived. The Demon Argument and Dream Argument basically makes us question is it our own minds fault for deception with our dreaming, or is it a malicious demon who is constantly torturing us for his own enjoyment. It gives us the final argument for doubt and allows us to basically say nothing we do, say, or experience is real at all, because we are just a puppet and the Demon is the one pulling all of the strings in our life.
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