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Modern Philosophy Final - Assignment Example

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Name of of Professor Title of Modern Philosophy Final Assignment 1. Following the First Meditation, it is not until the Sixth Meditation that the meditator can once again defend a claim to have knowledge that she is seated with papers in her hands and that there is a fireplace nearby and a tower in the distance…
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Modern Philosophy Final Assignment
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Download file to see previous pages With regard to this question, I at least know with certainty that such things may exist, in as far as they constitute the object of the pure mathematics, since, regarding them in this aspect, I can conceive them clearly and distinctly” (Descartes 111). Descartes comes to know that he gains knowledge of material objects through sense perception, but since sense perception is by nature, deceptive, how can Descartes prove that material objects exist independent of his mind? Herein, he uses the process of elimination to find out what causes his ideas of material bodies, and whether they can exist independent of his mind. In doing so, he first claims that he cannot be the cause of such material bodies, for it would go against his nature and freewill as a thinking substance. The cogito proves only that he exists as a thinking substance, but it does prove anything about his body. In addition, God cannot be the cause either, for these ideas I have of material bodies are mere adventitious ideas, which are based on sense perception, which are by nature, deceptive. He now knows that God is no deceiver. Therefore, material objects exist insofar as the idea he has of such objects is caused by the objects themselves. As Descartes claims, “nothing was so likely to occur to my mind as the supposition that the objects were similar to the ideas which they caused” (113). Thus, material objects exist independent of his mind, since its cause must have as much reality to its effect. However, this does not mean that material objects exist as his senses tell them to be. So what then is the true nature of material objects? Herein, Descartes observed a piece of wax and identified its qualities, that is, its color, taste, smell, texture and sound; all of which we come to know through our bodily senses. But when he puts this piece of wax on fire, all those qualities that he observed, changed. Nevertheless, he knows for certain that it is still the same piece of wax, so something must have remained so as to consider this wax as the same piece of wax. Thus, Descartes identifies certain primary qualities of the piece of wax, which remain constant, namely: figure, the capacity for change, and spatial extension. These primary qualities are what define the true nature of the piece of wax, and for all material objects and physical substances. What he initially perceived through his senses are mere secondary qualities of the object, which do not belong to the object itself, but are mere sensations and come from within him. In this regard, Descartes is now aware of the distinction between mental and physical substances, that is, mind and matter. According to Descartes, God created these two kinds of substances totally different from one another. Mental substances or the mind, is a thinking thing, has consciousness and is morally responsible for its thoughts. It is not spatially extended and has no capacity for motion, and has free will. On the other hand, physical substances or matter, has no consciousness, is subject to mechanical motion, is determined and is spatially extended. These two substances are two mutually exclusive entities, which are independent from each other. In other words, mind cannot be matter and matter cannot be mind. This leads to Descartes’ metaphysical dualism, which claims that there exists a two-fold reality, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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