Philosophy of Descartes and Its Rational Transition Essay

Pages: 11 (4086 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

¶ … Philosophy of Descartes and its rational transition through the stages of senses, self (Cogito) and God (Innate Idea). Find two criticisms on Descartes approach to philosophy.

While considering the argument over dreams, Descartes was guided to his position by a set of personal experiences. His test sample of one individual yielded the case that his mind was the producer of the images in his dream. He supposed from this resolution that he had no reason to believe that his mind was not similarly the producer of the images occupying his living experiences. However, the primary justification for obstructing such a transitive notion is that the commonality of interpretation from one individual to the next would suggest a certain universality in the perception of objects. This universality negates Descartes' self-directed view that the objects and devices he perceives are the invention of the mind. Instead, this speaks to the aforementioned notion that the objects present in the dreams are the mind's reflection of its own experiences while awake.

This lends to other refutations of Descartes' experience due to its being one solely inclined by his personal disposition. In particular, it seems an argument of individual convenience to contend that the similarities between the dream world and the corporeal illustrate a firm doubt that that which we perceive to be real is actually part of some sustained dream state. Such is a conditional statement which, under the auspices of Descartes' sensory argument, is given credence. However, it is through the very defined sensory distinctions between dreaming and living that Descartes' argument surrenders its merit. That is, while the objects and devices appearing in our dreams may be representations of these objects as they appear in the waking state, these objects are incapable of having the same impact. "The experience of, for example, thinking your bed is on fire, and being sound asleep and thinking in your dream that you bed is on fire, are "experiences" in different senses of the word" (Pastor, 1) The latter of these is, common to many distressful scenarios which may occupy our dreams, capable of accelerating the heartbeat, inspiring fear and causing perspiration. It is, however, incapable of actually levying any physical harm against an individual. While one may dream to be experiencing the repercussions of laying in a burning bed, the body will not suffer the consequences. Contrarily, if one perceives his bed to be on fire while in a waking state, it is certain to be accompanied by a feeling of intense physical pain which could leave no doubt as to the individual's level of consciousness.

This points to the primary detraction from Descartes' argument.

2. Lockean search for reality can be summarized as a "Journey from simple ideas to complex ideas." Yes/No. Explain. Atheism of Locke can be disproved from various view points. Can you come up with a few?

Locke, in seeking to characterize "qualities," as facts which serve to define objects or, as an extension of that, which serves to define people, assesses those ideas taken simply and for granted as actually being quite complex. Indeed, he notes that in our comprehension of reality, the primary and secondary qualities which we intuit to be associated to seemingly simple objects and ideas will actually reveal rather complex ideas. To the point, Locke describes primary qualities as those which establish the constant and unalterable nature of objects such as their bulk, solidity, extension and motion/rest. Secondary qualities are somewhat more abstract in nature, described as those sensations elicited from us upon interaction with an object in question. More directly, these secondary qualities are those sensations that are derived in us as a result of the primary qualities.

Locke's prime impulse in exploring the qualities of an object in this way seems to be designed of a need to distinguish between what can be considered absolute and what cannot. Indeed, it can be deduced from Locke's explanation that while there are universal constants, subjects to the laws of nature, absolutes lose value of application in human interpretation, which becomes the source for secondary qualities. While the former category is immutable, the latter is relative. Naturally, this idea of absolutes as those ideas and conditions with cannot apply to the secondary qualities of an object denotes that such characteristics would be difficult to apply to an unseen divine figure.

Concerning a topic as perilously subject to the laws of prejudice as defining reality of observation vs. perception responsive behavior, drawing distinctions in the simple and esoteric device of weight and body differences in a grain of wheat as Locke does in one example actually glosses over a barbed wire field of larger questions about personal experiences, cultural differences, intellectual capabilities and a host of other factors that may create a perception of the divine. This is particularly driven by the argument that Locke's Atheism relies too heavily on the nature of man's perception, which as we can see in Descartes' consideration for one, is a deeply individualistic experience even in the face of something allegedly simple as a grain of wheat. This individualism discounts Locke's insistence that the absence of so-called absolutes as a way to comprehend God will fail the beholder, instead suggesting this to be a consideration due for subjective observation.

3.

Bishop Berkeley could not take the Atheistic scientism of Locke. And so he made a "Spiritual world" of finite and infinite kinds. Do you agree with this statement? Yes/No. Why?

For Berkeley, a devout Irish protestant with a heavy involvement in the Church right up to his appointment as a Bishop, the philosophy of immaterialism rejected such absolutism as that which seemed to limit Locke's conception of things. This is ironic because at the outset, it appears that Berkeley may also prove himself driven by terms of concrete observation. An ideology that was largely rejected and critically abused at the time of its inception into the academic discourse, Berkeley would argue that the world is fully constructed of that which our minds manifest.

At the root of this argument though, by a strict and defined contrast from that which Lock offered on the subject, is the fundamental requirement of God in the actualization of this theory. As Berkeley denotes in one work, 'Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous,' that "the spirit that moves, the Intellect that guides / Th' eternal One that o'er the Whole presides. / Go learn'd mechanic, stare with stupid eyes, / Attribute to all figure, weight and size." (Berkeley, 1)

This seems a fairly aggressive and direct attack on the Locke ideology, which presumes far too much of the world based on the primary qualities of physical body discussed here. Berkeley balks at the implications of the grain analogy, instead here promoting the idea that all those things which we perceive in the finite spiritual world are projected by an infinite spiritual world. In other words, the finite nature of man and objects is underscored by the infinite proposition in which God's mind has manifested images, objects and ideas which we therefore perceive on this plane.

4.

Hume's "Matter of Facts and Relations of Ideas" contribute a lot to philosophy. While making his arguments where he needs more accuracy? And why? Could he successfully defend atheism?

In our investigation here Scottish empiricist David Hume provides a framework for understanding knowledge that is pragmatic, individualistic and, therefore, driven by experience. The result is an account which is almost inherently atheistic in its assertion of individuality as an important force in comprehension.

In the primary work by Hume, it is contended "that as our ideas are images of our impressions, so we can form secondary ideas, which are images of the primary; as appears from this very reasoning concerning them. This is not, properly speaking, an exception to the rule so much as an explanation of it." (Hume, 6) To Hume's perception, and the perspective of this account, the human perspective is an individual filter of details which promotes distinctly differing conceptions of rationality. This is an approach which tends to define knowledge in inherently flexible terms, contingent distinctly upon experiences which differ from one person to the next. Thus, the idea that God is manifested in our perceptions depends on a constancy of perception amongst individuals. The impossibility of such a condition underscores Hume's successful defense of atheism.

Still, there are regards in which this position could benefit from greater accuracy. Namely, in contrast to the empirical perspective espoused by Hume, there is a more absolutist belief system which engages knowledge quite oppositely. To those in this school of thought, there is a belief that rationality is the formulating constant allowing for the assumption of absolute cognitive and moral principles. A fundamental belief in a moral and rational order defined by a divine power, as a prominent example, will tend to refute the concept that knowledge could somehow be mutable according to perspective. Instead, it is considered rational for all sound and reasoning individuals to achieve certain… [END OF PREVIEW]

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