Questions and Reflections in Meditation

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Descartes writes let us reflect that possibly neither our hands nor our whole body are such as they appear to us to be in his first meditation. If we can sense our hands and body with all of our senses, however, are they still deceived? By this I mean that if we can use all of our senses (see, touch, smell, taste, sometimes hear) to understand our bodies and hands, can we believe our senses are true then? b. Descartes writes I cannot at present yield too much to distrust, since I am not considering the question of action, but only of knowledge If Descartes yields completely to distrust, however, would he ever become happy? Because of his devotion to questioning everything ever said, is there any room to enjoy the conversation or thought about the subject being addressed?.

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II. Reflections a. Descartes opens up by talking about how senses are deceptive. I think that this is a valid argument because senses are not always correct. What one person smells can be completely different from another person’s opinion. The most deceptive sense is probably sight, for sometimes we can see things but not see them fully. For example, what we see in the news and media can be completely false. Just because we saw the news doesn’t mean that every fact is true, therefore proving that what we see isn’t always something that we can rely on for knowledge. b. Descartes writes how do I know that I am not deceived every time that I add two and three, or count the sides of a square, or judge of things yet simpler, if anything simpler can be imagined? I think a good analysis of this question is that there is certain knowledge gained because it is standard. We could have been deceived when younger and first learning how to count because we did not know the standard facts of math. Now, we are able to prove that 2+3=5 because that is the set answer and cannot be changed. If you take 2 objects and place them next to 3 other objects and count the total of objects you have then, you would come up with 5 every time. However, some things can be proven differently based on perspective, opening up the possibility of being deceived.

Meditation 2 2 questions and reflections

I. Reflections a. I think that it is interesting that Descartes decides to start completely over, considering that he possesses no senses. He writes I imagine that body, figure, extension, movement and place are but the fictions of my mind. I feel that if Descartes does this, then it would be hard to come up with what the body is in the first place. If one possesses no senses, then how can a body that takes up matter be explained without using those senses? I think that it is interesting that Descartes uses this approach because it is easy to be deceived by opinion when it comes to appearance. The body can be an illusion, but I believe that the mind has to be dependent on the body in order to determine what it is. No one else can tell someone how their body reacts or feels other than the mind that is connected to that body itself. b. Descartes says I am, I exist, that is certain. But how often? I think that this is an intriguing question because it focuses on the essence of existence. If man exists, but does not travel into public, does he truly exist? I’m questioning this because the only person who knows that this person exist would be himself. When someone goes into public, they are noticed by others, therefore proving their existence because that person took up space and made interactions throughout their day. If someone didn’t show up into public all day, they still would exist because the body is still present and making actions regardless of who sees. After all, senses -including sight- can be deceiving, and can’t always prove existence.

II. Questions a. What is the reason behind Descartes’ considering that he had no body or figure? How is it possible to not be deceived when figuring out what the body is at this point? b. Descartes asks the question What is a man? Shall I say a reasonable animal? and then goes on to say certainly not, for then I should have to inquire what an animal is and that would mean he falls into a whole other topic of questioning what a human is. Why is Descartes so quick to disregard this question, though? I think it’s important how Descartes is critical and questioning of everything the body, senses, etc. but won’t consider the comparison of man to animal. Why does he not continue to explore animals and their relation to man?

Meditation 3 4 questions and reflections

I. Reflections a. Descartes writes that he is a substance, similar to a stone. I am a thing that thinks and not one that is extended, and that the stone on the other hand is an extended thing which does not think he continues to say that both represent substances. I think that this is true that the two are substances, but in the sense that Descartes is a thing and the stone is a thing. The fact that he is a thing that thinks doesn’t relate to the fact that the two substances take up space, therefore proving their existence. b. Descartes proves the existence of God within Meditations 3. He did this by arguing that we can’t understand the definition of God if the idea was not already in our minds given to us by God himself. Also, no reflection that we gain through senses or imagination could come up with the idea of God either. Thus, the idea of a supreme being is only possible because that idea was already put in our minds by God himself. c. Descartes also proves that God cannot be a deceiver. I think that this is important of Descartes to include because if there is a God who displays truth, could he also deceive us? Descartes proves that falsity can never come from or be caused by God. He also cannot be the cause of errors. Since God is not the cause of error or ignorance, no one has ever been deceived by him. d. If the idea of God is present in our minds already, then that idea could only exist because He put it there. If this is not true, then we would know about other forces or substances that influence our daily lives and ideas. We cannot explain the existence of things such as humans, positive daily events, and perfection without a reason that being God. There is no other explanation for this, as Descartes proves.

II. Questions

a. Descartes asks if he can discover in himself other things that he had not yet perceived. Is it possible to discover oneself through other people? b. Descartes writes although I could perhaps pretend that such a being does not exist, nevertheless I could not pretend that the idea of such a being discloses to me nothing realIt is indeed an idea that is utterly clear and distinct Why does Descartes choose that this is clear and distinct when there is no proof? What makes Descartes so sure about God’s presence to not question it more than his other theories about his existence or senses? c. Descartes writes that the idea of God is innate in me, just as the idea of myself is innate in me. If this is true, then why aren’t we born knowing how to speak or how to add 2+3 ? d. It is quite obvious that God cannot be a deceiver, for it is manifest by the light of nature that all fraud and deception depend on some defect. If God cannot be a deceiver, is there another being outside of Earth that is similar to God, but chooses to deceive instead of provide truth?

Meditation 4 2 questions and reflections

I. Questions a. Descartes writes God exists, and that my existence depends entirely on Him in every moment of my life. If our existence depends entirely on God, why does He not make Himself more prominent in our lives as an actual being? b. God would be a deceiver if we constantly run into error and illusion. When we do run into error, however, is that the product of another supreme being deceiving us?

II. Reflections a. if God has not placed in me the capacity for error, it seems as though I could never fall into error Descartes writes this at the beginning of Meditation 4, and I think that in certain circumstances God places us into situations where we can learn from our mistakes. Since Descartes proves to us in Meditation 3 that God cannot cause error or ignorance, this theory would be correct because we made the mistake ourselves. Descartes’ answer to this is that error must originate in one’s nonbeing. b. Error comes from lack of judgement, as Descartes explains. I think that this is important in proving that God does not deceive us. Since God gives free will, nature never can condemn one to have error. Error is a consequence of poor judgement or lack of clarity. Therefore, error cannot come from God because he provides us with free will giving us freedom to make mistakes. (I say freedom because mistakes are not a consequence of the free will God gives us, they are a consequence of the actions we choose based on that free will) Meditation 5 2 questions and reflections

I. Questions a. Descartes writes in his fifth meditation that He (God) possesses every sort of perfection and that existence is one of these perfections. Is it possible for perfection to deceive us or harm us in certain situations? Or is perfection always perfect, no matter what? b. Descartes proves that knowledge can be drawn from certain facts that are standard, such as 2+2=4. Similarly, geometry is proven as standard information in which other conclusions can be drawn from. Can geometry, like a triangle, be deceiving though? Since triangles can look differently acute, isosceles, and right triangles all have different lengths to their sides is this deceiving?

II. Reflections a. If God creates perfection, and existence is one of these perfections, it is possible for perfection to become negative. However, this is not His fault. I think that if God created a man who in his free will decided to commit errors, it would not reflect poorly on God’s intention. Although God created perfection and created a perfect man, it was that man’s mistakes and errors that caused him to become negative. b. Descartes writes that the ideas which I formed of myself were not so distinct as those which I perceived through the senses. I think this is interesting because it almost contradicts what Descartes claims in his first meditation that the senses are deceiving. I think that because the senses are given to us from God, they are not as deceiving as Descartes first thought. They can be deceived if we are not careful about where we draw our knowledge from especially with sight because of news media and articles that relay false information.

Meditation 6 2 questions and reflections

I. Questions a. And yet I have learned from some persons whose arms or legs have been cut off, that they sometimes seemed to feel pain in the part which had been amputated Does this mean that existence is not always essential ? (If a man loses his leg, that leg is not in existence anymore nor the pain, so would he really be feeling that pain or is the mind deceiving the body?)

II. Reflections a. Imagination is nothing but a certain application of the faculty of knowledge to the body and therefore exists according to Descartes. I think that our ability to imagine is where we start to become deceived. This is where we have to be careful of where we gain our understanding of objects. For example, one man’s idea of what a pen looks like differs from another man’s idea. They could be thinking of two completely different looking objects, though they represent the same category. This does not mean that our idea is wrong, but is an example that what one person learns is the truth can be a completely different perspective of someone else leading to the question of who is right b. Feelings of pleasure, pain, hunger, thirst, etc. could not have proceeded from my mind, so that they must necessarily have been produced in me by some other things I thought this was interesting because we do not ask to be hungry or thirsty, they are feelings that are already present in our minds. These judgements as Descartes calls them are formed inside of us before we can reject them, thus making these feelings essential to survival.

Meditations 5 and 6 2 questions and reflections

I. Questions

a. Throughout meditations, Descartes begins to tie his ideas together. All of these ideas come down to one conclusion God has given us our basic nature. Why does Descartes decide that God is the sole cause of perfection and creation and no one else is involved? If there is no deceiver, where does the deceiving come from in the first place? b. Descartes writes For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to a knowledge of the truth in regard to such things (such as pain) Can the body not help communicate to the mind and help develop this knowledge?

II. Reflections a. In meditation 6, Descartes talks about essence and body. He says that I rightly conclude that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing He continues to say that the soul is distinct from the body, and it is possible to exist without it. b. Feelings of hunger, thirst, and pain are examples of mind-body dualism. Descartes says all these sensationsare in truth none other than certain confused modes of thought which are produced by the union and apparent intermingling of mind and body this is Descartes’ last main point that the mind and body are distinct from each other but work together to make the body function. These feelings of hunger/thirst are nature’s way of communicating to the body. There is a clear understanding of this feeling, proving that the ideas of these feelings are already imbedded in our minds.

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