Descartes' Surprise Ending in 'Discourse on Method'

386 Words Jan 31st, 2018 2 Pages
For the first few books of Discourse on the Method, Descartes outlines first how the method came about as he was a pupil at school and had the realization that he was not actually learning anything important. He was therefore motivated to discover what truly constituted learning, knowledge, and truth. The philosopher can do this by doubting everything first. By doubting, he can use reason to discern what is real from unreal.
Doubting is the focus of Book Two of Discourse on the Method. The method that Descartes applies to fields like geometry, which the author points out in Book Two. His doubting is more personal in Book Three. The surprise ending to Discourse on the Method comes when suddenly Descartes is no longer doubting something. He spends so much time in the first three books on doubting information, and letting go of his beliefs, that when he launches into his cogito ergo sum assertion, it comes to the reader as a great surprise.
The surprise ending is that Descartes finds the first thing he cannot doubt, which is the fact that he exists. His existence is something that cannot be doubted, or else it would create a metaphysical conundrum: it is not possible to even think about doubting without first existing. The smallest thought cannot come from nothingness, and so,…