Descartes' Evil Demon Argument

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Essay Choice 1 In the First Meditation, Descartes gives us the Evil Demon Hypothesis which serves to give him reason to doubt the existence of everything he perceives and believes. He describes a ‘malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning’ that has the sole purpose of deceiving Descartes (Descartes, 2010: 17). I will argue that his hypothesis has proven to be a strong one because only the cogito provides a way for us to frustrate or trick the evil demon. The Evil Demon Hypothesis is an important component of the Method of Doubt. Descartes used the Method of Doubt to find what is true by withholding assent from all beliefs that are dubitable. However, if Descartes was to scrutinise everything he believed, he would be left with an…show more content…
Essentially the same as the Evil Demon Hypothesis is the Deceiving God Argument. Once Descartes described it, he realised that he has doubt in all of his former beliefs and as a result withheld assent from all those former beliefs (Descartes, 17:2010). However he found his ‘habitual opinions kept coming back’ and so to stop this he counterbalanced all his previous beliefs by believing them entirely false. After a while he would be able to let go of his previous convictions and ‘perceive things correctly’ (Descartes, 17:2010). It could be argued that it isn’t possible to frustrate the demon because of its omnipotence, meaning it would have unlimited power and capabilities. Descartes does credit the demon with omnipotence when saying ‘some demon of the utmost power and cunning (Descartes, 17:2010). Other scholars such as Kennington don’t believe the demon is omnipotent because in the original text Descartes didn’t call the demon quo potest omnia or omnipotens, which God was. Furthermore, in the First Meditation, the Evil Demon is mentioned only thrice (Kennington, 1971: 442), making one wonder if it was really that was being referred to. However I believe this opinion is wrong or at least not completely true. God is certainly held as omnipotent by Descartes. He described the demon as ‘some God or any other name it may be called’ and is described along
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