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Flashcards in Descartes set text Deck (28)
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1

M1 - senses vs. body

- Senses deceive – p.11
o All currently amassed truth has been via the senses
o But the senses deceive
- Need to trust own body – p.11
o The existence of the body seems undoubtable as we can look at our hands etc.

2

M1 - dreams, a priori

- Dreams are illusions – 12
o Dreams can appear realistic
- Paintings are fictitious but the colours used are real – 12-13
- Examination of composite things is doubtful – 13
- A priori is preferable – 13
o Hence, why D prefer maths, as it is objective and always rationally true

3

M1 - God

- God can do everything – 13
- God could have the power to deceive – 14
o Varying possibility of God’s power
o Some may prefer to deny the existence of God than believe in uncertainty
o D discusses the varying possibilities of God’s power – controversial
o ‘since to be deceived and mistaken seems to be some kind of imperfection, the less powerful the author they assign to my origin, the more likely it is that I was made in such a way that I am always mistaken’

4

M1 - Doubt and demon

- Threat of doubt is persistent – 15
- Taunted by demon? – 15
- Asserts that he will stand strong in face of deception – 15
‘I will remain resolutely steady in this meditation’

5

M2 - inner conflict and the empirical

- Inner conflict re. doubts vs. desire to combat doubts – 16
- Reduces everything to knowable, assumes that every he perceives is false – 17
- Dismisses the empirical – 17
o ‘I have no senses at all’
suggests that it is an intellectual exercise

6

M2 - God and dualism

- God is cause of his thoughts – 17
- Introduces idea of dualism – 17
o ‘am I so tied to a body and senses that I am incapable of existing without them?’

7

M2 - rational mind and cogito

- Mind is rational – 17
o ‘I certainly did exist, if I convinced myself of something’
- Existence is proven by ability to be deceived, cannot deceive the non-existent – 18
- ‘I am, I exist is necessarily true’ – 18

8

M2 - doubts re. soul

- Doubts re soul – 19
o Feels that he has not properly considered the nature of the soul
o Now has no doubts re. body?

9

M2 - thinking thing

- Existence is certain, he is a thinking being – 20
o It is the fact that he can think which testifies his existence
o ‘I am, I exist; that is certain’
o ‘I know that I exist, and I am asking who is this ‘I’ whom I know’ – 20
- imagination could be deceiving – 21
- I am a thinking thing – 21
- I am consistent with doubting ‘I’ – 21-22
o Process of imagining exists and attests to ability to think

10

M2 - physical things

- Physical seems realer than imagination – 22
o The mind is more difficult to understand
- Example of wax, senses cannot alter the rational – 23
o Can touch wax and understand its physical properties
o But when it melts, it loses its previous hard form
The actual wax, however, is the same – ‘the wax remains’

11

M2 - perceiving and the senses

- ‘perceiving…is an inspection of the mind alone’ - 24
o Understanding = faculty of judgment in mind – 25
- Need mind to perceive – 25
- Can use senses to observe but need mind to judge – 26
o Bodies can only be perceived by the senses, but must be judged using the mind
o What can be more successfully perceived than the mind itself?

12

M3 - meditation and perception

- Meditative quality to writing – 27
o ‘I will now close my eyes, block my ears and shut down all my senses’
- ‘I am a thinking thing, that is, something which is doubting, affirming, denying’ - 27
- What you can perceive = reality – 28
o However, has been previously deceived by things that seemed distinct
- Example of geometry – 28

13

M3 - God as deceiving

- Is god a deceiver? – 29
o ‘since I have no reason to think there is such a deceptive God and, in fact, I do not even know yet if any God exists, any reason for doubting which depends exclusively on that belief is a very flimsy and, I would say, a metaphysical reason for doubting’

14

M3 - innate ideas but deceptive

- ‘Some thoughts are like the images of things’
o Platonic
- We have innate ideas but we also seem to have acquired names – 30
- These ideas are often against will – 31
- Look at external things against its own likeness – 31
o Plato
- Do the ideas originate from external things? – 32
- E.g. sun appears small but is actually big. Senses = deceptive – 32

15

M3 - God and cause

- God = all knowing, omnipotent (33)
- Idea of causes – origin of effect is cause – 33
o ‘there must be at least as much reality in an efficient and total cause as in the effect of that cause’
- Something cannot be made from nothing – 33

16

M3 - intentional and formal reality

- Intentional vs. formal reality – 34
o Intentional reality comes from ‘some cause in which there is at least as much formal reality as is contained intentionally in the idea’ (34)
o Formal mode belongs to idea of principal causes, just as the intentional mode of being belongs to ideas because of their nature
- ‘thus it is evident to me by the natural light of reason that my ideas are like images of some kind that can easily fall short of the perfection of the things from which they are derived’ (35)
- you can have two substances with great conceptual differences e.g. human vs. stone

17

M3 - God (chunky)

- God = powerful and created creatures – 38
o He is the source of creation
- More reality in infinite substances than finite substances – 39
- Supremely perfect/infinite being = true to the highest degree – 39
o Need this concept to understand that in doubting, we are lacking. Need something more perfect in comparison
- God as supreme perfection – 40
- We cannot derive existence from ourselves as then we would give ourselves all supreme perfections - 41
- God = ultimate cause – 43
o Derives his existence from himself
- Unity of God’s attributes – 44
- God exists as D exists – 44
- God = innate in D just as the idea of himself is innate in himself – 44
- If God created us we must be in his image to a certain extent – 45
o We are dependent on him
- God cannot be a deceiver as deception is a defect – 45

18

M4 - doubting and God

- When I doubt, I receive a clear and distinct idea of God – he must therefore exist and our existence must be dependent on him – 46
- God cannot deceive as deception involves defect – 47
- Faculty of judgment comes from God – 47
- Will not be victim to error if one focuses completely on God – 47

19

M4 - perfection and mistakes

- Cannot know mind of God and so cannot know if it would have been better to be created without the capacity to doubt – 48
- Cannot know the mind of God – 49
- Perfection = holistic – 49
- Mistakes depend on the faculty of knowing (intellect) and the will – 49
Can only perceive ideas using the intellect

20

M4 - freedom and mistakes

- Faculty of understanding is limited, comes from God – 50
- Question of freedom – 51
o Divine grace and natural knowledge strengthen freedom
- Explanation for why we make mistakes – 52
o If we always saw what is good, we could never be indifferent
o ‘since the will extends further than the understanding, I do not restrain it within the limits of the understanding but apply it even to things that I do not understand. Given that it is different to those things, it is easily deflected from what is true or good’
- Created beings are finite – 54

21

M4 - mistakes and God

- Privations are not associated with God – 54
o God gave us freedom, it is our own fault when we use freedom incorrectly and judge things we do not understand properly
- God cannot be deceiver if he is supremely perfect – 56

22

M5 - innumerable ideas

- Innumerable ideas – 57
o We can have distinct images of quantity/continuity quantity
o We can perceive innumerable particular things e.g. shapes
o This knowledge seems to be remembering something that we already knew rather than learning something new - 57
- Triangle, can know essence – 58
o We know its properties

23

M5 - conception and God's existence

- We have a conception of God as supremely perfect, can distinctly understand it – 59
- Existence of God = certain – 59
o ‘I should attribute to God’s existence at least the same degree of certainty that I have attributed to mathematic truths until now’
- Existence is part of God’s essence – 59, 60
- Existence is a perfection – 61
- Only God cannot be separated from his essence – 62
- In noticing that God exists, things we perceive are necessarily true – 63
- Certainty of knowledge depends on recognition of God’s existence – 64

24

M6 - imagination vs. understanding

- Difference between imagination and pure understanding – 65
o Imagination = mere ‘application of the cognitive faculty to a body that is intimately present to that faculty and that therefore exists’
o Can imagine a triangle with 3 sides but cannot accurately imagine a chiliagon with one thousand sides
- Capacity to understand is not an intrinsic part of essence – 66
o It depends on something distinct from me

25

M6 - body and deception

- There can be an argument that concludes necessarily that some body exists – 67
- We have feelings etc. that come to me without my consent e.g. fear – 68
- We react emotionally to physical pain and vice versa – 69
- Senses remain deceiving – 70
o E.g. ghost limbs

26

M6 - distinct faculty

- Everything we understand clearly comes from God – 71
- There must be a faculty in some substance that is distinct from me – 73
- Physical things exist – 73
- Cannot doubt existence of body – 74
- My body can be affected – 75
- Nature teaches us certain things but does not draw conclusions from sensory perceptions – 76
o E.g. teaches to flee from pain

27

M6 - body vs. mind

- Human body is a form of machine – 78
- Differences between mind and body – 79
o Mind = indivisible
o Body = divisible
- Mind is separate to the body – 79
- Mind is not affected by all body parts – 80
- Despite God, the mind cannot help but be deceptive sometimes - 82

28

M6 - conc re. god

- Dismisses previous doubts, sense of psychological progression – 83
- God is not a deceiver, should not doubt thoughts when you can see where they have come from - 83