The Folly of René Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy

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The Folly of René Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy In order to embark on his quest for truth, Descartes first devises his four rules which should serve as a solid foundation for all else that he comes to understand. Those rules are here evaluated in terms of what they fail to take into consideration. The rules are examined individually and consecutively, and are therefore also reiterated in order to be clear about them. Furthermore, the approach of using these rules is also analyzed to some degree. Ultimately, however, it is my conjecture that Descartes’ four rules are not as solid a foundation as he claims, but fail to consider key issues which are noted herein. Descartes’ first rule deals…show more content…
For him, “the method that teaches one to follow the true order and to enumerate exactly all the circumstances of what one is seeking contains everything that gives certainty to the rules of arithmetic (12).” Still, the notion of one’s existence as proven by thought is not something which can be measured and translated into a numerical quantity. In fact, most fundamental concepts and their corresponding emotions that make up human life, such as love, are neither indubitable nor quantifiable, though are still held as being true, sometimes more than anything else. This leads me to find that the very first of Descartes’ rules is a shaky foundation at best. It asks for an acceptance of indubitable truth, and only that truth. But if this is to be indeed held as a standard, then nothing could actually be accepted with certainty. The second [rule], to divide each of the difficulties I would examine into as many parts as possible and as was required in order better to resolve them. (11) The basis of this second rule appears to be an endeavor to take a claim and examine it from all possible perspectives, and to test it against all possible situations. Neither of which is, in effect, possible. One could spend an entire lifetime looking at all the possible situations in which a claim could be contested and would not even come close to revealing
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