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St Johns University New York Rene Descartes Essay Question

Need help with my Philosophy question – I’m studying for my class.

With the French philosopher Rene Descartes we move into the modern period of Western philosophy, which, as we will see presents something of a challenge to traditional metaphysical claims and ambitions. Modern thinkers are typically more skeptical of ultimate answers to the questions we have been asking. The moderns focus their energies on more practical questions, and through this concentration they lay the foundations of modern science. Many modern philosophers, like Descartes begin with an attempt to tear down the tradition through a reassessment of human knowledge. In this DB I want you to read the first two of his Meditations, in which Descartes strips away all previous knowledge in an attempt to find some foundation that is absolutely indubitable (that is, something that one could not possibly doubt it). His method is “universal hyperbolic doubt.” His question in this exploration is: What am I absolutely certain that I know, if anything? (Notice that for the first time in history a philosopher presents his study as a first-person narrative: “This is the question I asked myself…This is what I discovered.” 

For this Reflection Essay you should read Meditations I and II. Discuss what you understand of one of the following: 

1.    How does Descartes consider the existence of God in the first two Meditations? What role does the “Evil Genius” (a supremely powerful being who is malicious and spends all of His or Hers or Its Power trying to deceive Descartes) – this is logically possible, by the way.

2.    Descartes’ famous conclusion to his search is the existence of his own conscious: “I am, I exist.” (p. 107). In another book he gives it a more familiar phrasing: “I think, therefore I exist.” This probably the most famous line in the history of Western philosophy (in Latin: Cogito, ergo sum). What does Descartes accomplish with this discovery? What does it mean to you?Your 


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