Ren© Descartes, known as the father of philosophy, was a French philosopher who made a movement to defeat skepticism or other-wise known, doubt. Descartes writings about certain knowledge to the external world come from a system of doubt that would bring him to the truth. This method of doubt involves completing the task of removing all uncertain beliefs. This ensures that only beliefs that are true remain. Starting from the foundation of knowledge allows Descartes to establish a sense of certainty after testing his beliefs with doubt.
This method of doubt can be described, for example, if I were to bake an entire batch of cookies in the kitchen and leave them on the stove to cool down. Leaving the kitchen knowing there is an entire batch of cookies ready to eat I would believe that the whole batch would still be there when I return. In reality, there is a chance that when I return to the kitchen someone could have eaten a cookie or even the entire batch could be gone. This makes it possible to believe something, but it cannot always be proven true. The method of doubt consists of taking away all uncertain beliefs, leaving only beliefs that can be proven true to someone’s personal philosophy. Descartes, in his first paragraph of Meditation 1, says, I had accepted, even from my youth, many false opinions for true, and that consequently what I afterwards based on such principles was highly doubtful; and I was convinced of the necessity of undertaking to rid myself of all the opinions I had adopted. For Descartes, he could use this methodology to group together his beliefs by doubting common characteristics and furthermore giving an understanding on what is a true belief.
Descartes brings up the question, how can I prove if I’m dreaming or not?. When someone dreams, they can be overwhelmed with a presentation of all kinds of situations or even a very dull dream. How do we distinguish between being awake and being asleep? There is no clear way for an individual to know if they are sleeping or awake. This brings in doubt on if we experience is real or not. Descartes makes the argument that since you cannot be sure if you are dreaming or not then you cannot be sure if what you experience is a dream or something you perceived. Other philosophers have argued that there is a way to distinguish between being awake or sleeping such as greater perception when a person is coherent. But how can philosophers be so certain that there is no such thing as a particular coherent dream?
This brings up the difference between indubitable and dubitable beliefs. An indubitable belief is a belief that cannot be doubted or is un-doubtful. An example would be Descartes saying, I think therefore I am. This is the idea that if a person can think then he or she exist or is real. Descartes also writes that knowledge is indubitable because what a person can prove as true belief in un-doubtable belief. If a person can think of something and see it through then it is undoubtable that the person exists. A person who is non-living cannot think, and a person who is non-living does not exist. A living human being can think and can come up with thoughts on their own, while, for instance, a rock is non- living and does not have the ability to think’ so therefore it does not exist.
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