Sara Magrin Sarah Gabr 900-08-9073 Final Essay In the First Meditation, Descartes presents his philosophical project, and he claims .Descartes has been heralded as the first modern philosopher.
In the Second Meditation, Descartes will argue that the beliefs "I think," "I exist," and "I am a thinking thing" have this status. He thinks those beliefs could still be trusted even if there were a demon trying to deceive him in these ways. For after all, if "I think," then his belief would have to be true, wouldn't it? Because he's thinking it, and what the belief is that he's thinking. So the belief would be true. Descartes then tries to use these beliefs as a starting-point to respond to all the doubts laid out in the First Meditation. But as I said, we're going to focus in this class on the First Meditation, not on the later parts of Descartes' project.
At the beginning of his fourth meditation, Descartes begins reflecting on the three main certainties that he has developed so far: 1) that God exists, 2) that God is not a deceiver, and 3) that God created him and is therefore responsible for all his faculties, including his faculty of judgment. Descartes seems satisfied with the first two convictions, however, he begins to explore the conflict that arises with the third; that, “if everything that is in me comes from God, and he did not endow me with a faculty for making mistakes, it appears that I can never go wrong” (Descartes and Cottingham 38). This dilemma, also known as the “Problem of Error”, prompts the need for Descartes to reconcile the two, seemingly contradictory positions. While he makes several attempts at resolving the issue, his final justification seems to rest on the belief that one is capable of believing at will, an assertion that, due to its implausibility, seems to cause Descartes’ solution to the problem of error to crumble.
This argument assumes that there is no relevant difference between occasional deception and systematic deception, so that if God could permit the one (as he does), he could also permit the other. Later in the Meditations, Descartes will come back to this assumption and he will eventually decide that it's wrong. In the end, Descartes will argue that although God does let us be deceived some of the time, it incompatible with God's goodness to let us always be deceived. But we're not going to look at those parts of the Meditations; we're just focusing on the First Meditation.