Descartes' Epistemology

1696 WordsApr 29, 20137 Pages
Epistemology ------------------------------------------------- Carefully explain Descartes’ cogito and his attempt to build his knowledge structure from the ground up. (Be as succinct as possible.) Does Descartes succeed or fail in that attempt? Justify your answer in full. Descartes’ Epistemology This essay attempts to explain Descartes’ epistemology of his knowledge, his “Cogito, Ergo Sum” concept (found in the Meditations), and why he used it [the cogito concept] as a foundation when building his structure of knowledge. After explaining the concept I give a brief evaluation of his success in introducing and using this cogito as a foundation. Finally, I provide reasons why I think Descartes succeeded in his epistemology. The First…show more content…
The argument, as Descartes presented, does not give a valid reason for the existence of the body or anything else in the physical world, so we cannot accept that bodies exist. Neither does the cogito account for the existence of other minds as that would entail knowledge of the physical world where other things exist. The cogito concept does however; give a valid argument for the existence of the mind or a thinking thing that exists independently of the body. In his novel Think, Blackburn explains the cogito concept as a means of justifying the core of one’s existence as thinking, we accept that thought exists not a ‘self’ (Blackburn, 2001:20). I agree with Blackburn because his [Descartes’] concept serves well to prove that we exist as thinking things and even if we were to discard any a priori or a posteriori knowledge, we can still endorse the cogito. The cogito concept stands regardless of empirical knowledge because it suggests the existence of thought without actually linking it to the body (which constitutes a sort of empirical way of acquiring knowledge through the senses). In addition, it can be accepted without any a priori knowledge since Descartes only introduced it after concluding that he knew nothing, and could only accept knowledge of his own existence as vindicated. To assess Descartes choice of foundation I will raise some questions that implore an explanation regarding the
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