Descartes my will, nor consequently upon myself, for
Descartes is famed by is familiar notion, I think therefore I am (Cogito, ergo sum.). It isa conclusion he has reached in his second meditation after much deliberation on theexistence of anything certain. After he discovers his ability to doubt and to understand ,he is able to substantiate his necessary existence as a consequence. What we doubt orunderstand may not ultimately correspond, but we can never be uncertain that we are inthe process of thought.
This idea is a major component in Descartes proof of theexternal world. He relies on the existence of a non-deceiving God to ensure that anexternal world exists after calling it into doubt by the invocation of the dream argument.In this argument, Descartes suggests the possibility that none of our ideas are caused byexternal objects and therefore, such objects may not exist.
He also raises the idea of ademon that may deceive us and allow us to perceive what is not really there. Although heassures himself of his own existence by his modes of thought, he remains uncertain of thereality of an external world. He doubts whether there is anything of material substancethat provokes thought within him rather than it being conceived in his mind completelyindependent of anything else. Descartes then considers those reasons that have inclinedhim to believe these material things exist in the past. I know by experience that theseideas do not depend upon my will, nor consequently upon myself, for often I notice themagainst my will..
. I feel heat, and therefore I believe that this feeling or idea of heatcomes to me from something other than myself, namely from the fire I am near. Nothingis more obvious than the judgment that this object (rather than something else) grafts itslikeness on to me.
Since however, he has called upon anything to be false that provokesany doubt he does not believe this explanation to be enough for the proof of the externalworld. Relying on this sort of natural impulse has led him astray in the past, so what is tokeep it from happening all the time. He also calls upon the dream argument in thisinstance.
Ideas come to be in dreams independent of external objects and perhaps this istrue of ideas when we are awake. It seems that Descartes finds it necessary to firstestablish the existence of a non-deceiving God before he can be assured of the existenceof anything beyond himself and his mode of thought. He does this by the rationalizationthat his perception of God is that of a perfect being.
In order for a being to be perfect itmust exist. Since he himself is an imperfect being, he can not conceive the idea ofperfection on his own. Therefore, it must have come from some other faculty that mustbe perfect, which is God.
It is after his proof of the existence of God that Descartescomes to accept that clear and distinct ideas can be trusted. After this deliberation hisprocess of coming to the existence of an external world seems rather direct. I have theclear perception that material objects exist. Since I have already determined that God isnot deceiving me nor my perceptions, my perceptions can be trusted as being actual.
Ifmy perceptions of material objects and an external world are actual, then they must exist.But this external reality is different from our reality of thought. It becomes dualistic bythe idea of two separate substances. Descartes establishes a sort of isomorphic statebetween thought, or the mind, and extension, or matter.
The mind takes up no space. Itconsists of the senses and all modes of thought. Matter, however, takes up space. It canbe divided into smaller and smaller components, but it, unlike the mind, has noconsciousness. Both, he infers have God as their source because God, alone, existsindependent of anything else. But, the substances do not have any contact with eachother.
Thought is independent of matter just as matter is independent of thought. But,although the two are indeed completely independent of each other, there is constantinteraction between the two. This is the essence of Decartes philosophy of dualism.
Weas humans, consist of both and are therefore, dualistic creatures. We have a mind and wealso take up space. Both are crucial to our elements of being, but we will grow old andwe can be physically debilitated. But, so long we continue to think and haveconsciousness, two plus two will always be four and a mile will still be a mile.Philosophy Essays