Saturday, February 5, 2011

Descartes: 3 elements to his method of doubt

  • Descartes was on a personal quest to discover the fundamental nature of the universe and human beings, to unify science
  • he has no way of knowing which of his beliefs are really true
    • must start afresh by subjecting his beliefs to a test of doubt
    • no time to test every belief as that would be an endless task
    • must go to the root, the principles upon what all opinions rest
    • principles that survive the test of doubt will become the new foundation for knowledge
Descartes method  --->  Certainty through the rejection of the uncertain -->  use doubt explicitly and systematically as a tool to reach certainty
  • 3 elements to his method: doubt, sort, reconstruct
  • doubt --> reasonable and systematic --> not only is it logically possible for us to doubt but the stronger claim that it is reasonable to doubt
  •  sort --> doubt functions as a sorting agent --> like emptying a barrel of apples throwing out the rotten ones --> beliefs that survive the Method of doubt are worthy of being kept because they are clear and trustworthy
  • reconstruct --> These doubt tested beliefs are then used to reconstruct our knowledge --> they are the secure and certain foundation for rebuilding of knowledge --> certainty through rejection of the uncertain

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