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Descartes - Term Paper Example

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Instructor name Date Descartes and Dualism One of the major questions still strongly debated in philosophical circles is the relationship between the mind and body. This question has proven so difficult that it has developed into its own field of inquiry called dualism…
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Download file to see previous pages Essentially, the mind/body problem centers on trying to determine what constitutes 'real' experience. It is clear that the mind can fool the body into thinking it is experiencing something. Examples of this are found in the experiences of people with lost limbs or psychosomatic illness. However, the body can also fool the mind into experiencing something, such as in the case of false scents, misperceptions or vertigo. It is necessary to investigate the theories of Descartes any time one is researching dualism because it was Descartes who first suggested the body and mind could be divided and he who began to define the proper realms of the mind as compared to that of the body. The more these ideas are researched, though, the more they seem to fall apart. Dualism is the result of an attempt by Descartes to bring the discipline of mathematics with its basis on ‘real’ factual knowledge together with the more intangible concepts of thought. His attempt is characterized by a categorical rejection of anything that could not be externally proven. This method is now referred to as hyperbolic doubt. Regarding this method, Burnham and Fieser say “he refused to accept the authority of previous philosophers – but he also refused to accept the obviousness of his own senses. ...
en applied to the school of philosophic thought because the formalist paradigm of the Socratic-Platonics denied any possibility of empirical knowledge. “On this view, sensory experience can inform us only about appearances, about how things seem. Authentic knowledge (episteme), however, must be of reality. The idea of empirical knowledge, that is, experiential knowledge, is thus intrinsically incoherent. The provenance of knowledge proper, that is, knowledge of the eternal and independent Forms, is reason alone. With regard to the world available to us through the senses, the world of appearances, we can aspire only to opinion (doxa)” (Rosenberg). According to the formalist paradigm, then, there is no means by which a mortal human being can access the epistemic knowledge Descartes sought simply because we do not have the appropriate capabilities required to understand what it is we are seeing/experiencing at this level. To accomplish the type of evidence he required, Descartes applied four basic rules of logic to his process of discovery to use as guides and method. The first rule applied was that he could only accept truths that were 'clearly and distinctly' known to be true. The second rule employed was to reduce problems down to their most common elements. This enabled the philosopher to tackle them each as micro problems which could then contribute to solving the macro. The third rule was to proceed in logical order from the easiest solution to the most difficult so as to reduce the weight of issues being considered. The fourth and final rule was to take a broad view of each individual micro-problem in order to be sure nothing has been missed at the macro level. As Brians comments, “He calls into question everything that he thinks he has learned through his ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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