By Kurt Brandhorst
Descartes' Meditations is without doubt one of the first texts philosophy pupil will research, and person who many come again to repeatedly. instead of easily telling the reader what to imagine, Meditations invitations us to take a philosophical trip. This e-book prepares readers for that trip, supporting them to have interaction with all of the meditations and suggesting methods during the tougher passages. This advisor additionally bargains scholars a clean method by way of bringing to existence the trail of self-discovery encapsulated within the paintings, whereas preserving the emphasis on metaphysics. via targeting what the textual content itself has to assert, instead of what has been acknowledged approximately it through others, it's going to support readers in any respect degrees to find - or rediscover - why Descartes' Meditations is without doubt one of the cornerstones of philosophy.
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Extra resources for Descartes: meditations on first philosophy
And this is not a good sign for absolute certainty. Before we move on, however, we must comment on an often overlooked but nonetheless remarkable feature of the first stage of doubt. In presenting this first stage Descartes adopts the strategy of personifying the senses. Philosophers do this more or less unwittingly every time they refer to the ‘testimony of the senses’ for it is a person first and foremost who gives testimony, who can be a witness. However, while talk of ‘what the senses tell us’ or ‘the reports of the senses’ might be explained away as nothing more than a convenient way of talking about an abstruse and complicated process, Descartes’ argument rests on taking the elements of the personification seriously.
From this analogy, Descartes claims that even in the most extravagant dream there would have to be basic features that would remain consonant with our waking sense experience. These general components of images include corporeal nature in general, together with its extension; the shape of extended things; their quantity, that is, their size and number; as well as the place where they exist; the time through which they endure, and the like. (AT7:20) These constitute the features of opinions that survive the dream argument; those that are trustworthy even in dreams.
Thus, our claim about the ‘real things’ corresponding to both sense-derived and sense-like opinions is reduced to a claim about the general features of any correspondent reality. And so just as visual experience must involve some colour or other, those features of sensory reality that we can reliably claim to be true are extension, shape, size, number, position, and persistence. While the process thus far might seem to have reduced the meaningful content of reality to nought, Descartes finds reason to celebrate.
Descartes: meditations on first philosophy by Kurt Brandhorst