Descartes Method of Doubt Term Paper

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Descartes' Method of Doubt

Right, that's actually the paragraph I thought that you were referring to.

This paragraph contains important information not found in the rest of the essay because it operates as a counterargument. It begins by conceding the fact that Descartes' viewpoint is not entirely incorrect.

However, it alludes to the fact that it was the author's choice of diction, in which he states it is for the reason that he mentioned "alone," which is the basis for his source of error. This broad generalization is the crux of the author's argument, and the sole reason why all of the other distinctions made within this assignment are true.

This counterargument presents a third idea not found elsewhere in the essay.


Rene Descartes' Fourth Meditation is exceedingly important in its consideration of the source of human error, given the fact that people have spawned from God who is by very definition the embodiment of perfection in virtually every way possible. However, in identifying what the source of human error is, Descartes makes some false assumptions and misrepresents some important concepts. Essentially, the revered author posits that the source of human error stems from passing judgments on things of which people have an inherent "indifference" (Descartes) towards -- those things about which we are not certain of, have not had sufficient time to reflect upon, and which we are not able to fully comprehend before passing judgment. This notion is centered upon two of the most important attributes to human beings, their intelligence and their liberty that allows them to exercise free will. By positing that free will is unlimited, whereas man's intellect is circumscribed, the author believes that the combination of these forces account for man's propensity to err.

In propounding this argument, however, Descartes has misconstrued the true relationship between free will and intellect. Mankind's will is not as boundless as the author states it is within the text. There are aspects of free will that actually hinge upon intellect. One's intellect, therefore, plays a significant part in what one does, and, more importantly, in what one is able to do. Ability (or the lack thereof), which is influenced by intellect and understanding, is the actual reason why mankind errs, as is the nature of free will itself, which comes with an inherent responsibility that only man, and not God (as Descartes alludes to) can fulfill. A thorough analysis of Descartes Fourth Meditation readily proves the veracity of this thesis.

The author concedes that mankind is limited in its scope of intellect. The following quotation is one of many within this meditation that indicates this fact. "If I consider the faculty of understanding which I possess, I find that it is of very small extent, and greatly limited…" (Descartes). What the author does not acknowledge, however, is the intrinsic effect that a circumscribed intellect inevitably has upon one's free will. The author puts a lot of emphasis on the unlimited nature of mankind's will, which he believes is a reflection of God's free will. The subsequent quotation evinces this fact.

It is the faculty of will only, or freedom of choice, which I experience to be so great that I am unable to conceive the idea of another that shall be more ample and extended; so that it is chiefly my will that leads me to discern that I bear a certain image and similitude of Deity (Descartes).

However, Descartes is wrong about the nature of will. It may resemble facets of God, yet it is far from reflecting a "freedom of choice." True freedom of choice means that anything is possible. There are certain things that are possible that Descartes and all of his vaunted free will cannot achieve. If the author's will led him to defy the laws of gravity, personally, via the means of levitation or even of unassisted flight -- all of the will in the world would not help him accomplish this task. There is still a need for ability, for prowess -- some of which is directly related to intellect and for which, man could only reason or discern a way to accomplish his task, he could do so. Yet the author already elucidated the point that man's intellect is limited. Humans… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Descartes Method of Doubt.  (2012, October 26).  Retrieved December 12, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Descartes Method of Doubt."  26 October 2012.  Web.  12 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Descartes Method of Doubt."  October 26, 2012.  Accessed December 12, 2019.