There is no use denying the fact that the world, which surrounds us, has a great number of different mysteries which a person is still not able to understand. However, there are many various attempts to analyze the universe and understand how it functions. Thus, a person needs an instrument to cogitate about different phenomena. That is why philosophy appeared. Being a very ancient science which tried to determine the main regularities according to which the world functions, philosophy created different approaches to the world analysis and ways to obtain knowledge. Nowadays, humanity has a great number of various ideas connected with it and is able to choose the best one. Besides, appearance of a new philosophic approach is rather complicated process as it challenges traditional one. Under these conditions, Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy can be taken as a very important step in development of philosophic thought and critical thinking.
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Being a very talented mathematician and philosopher, Descartes was no satisfied with the rule of traditional Aristotle’s philosophy, which was taken as the only right one. That is why, Descartes was interested in creation of a new and unique approach which would be able to replace the old one and become more efficient. However, just description of his own vision of the problem and world was not enough. Descartes realized that he had to explain his main ideas for people and the most outstanding philosophers of his time be able to understand him. That is why, the work Meditations on First Philosophy appeared. It was the attempt to change existing rules and introduce the main aspects of critical thinking for people to be able to analyze the world and information which they obtain better. Resting on these facts, the work can be called the reflection of Descartes philosophy and his attempt to make people understand it.
There are six meditations in the given work and each of them introduces its own idea. The author presents his cogitations on behalf of the Meditator, which centers his thoughts around different issues. The first meditation on what can be called in doubt shows the authors attitude toward the nature of things and the way in which people obtain information (Descartes 17). Meditator outlines the fact that he has been wrong for many times in many different things. He underlines that all opinions could be doubted if a person is able to find the reason to do it.
Meditator states that all information, which a person possesses, he/she obtains with the help of different senses. However, at the same time a person may be deceived while dreaming, feeling things which do not exist. It is possible to suggest the idea that Descartes tends to show people that there are no universal truths in the world and thing, which seem quite real, can turn out to be totally false. That is why, a person should be critical in his/her thinking and analyze what he/she sees and percepts finding different reasons to doubt existing opinion.
Meditator continues his cogitation in the second meditation of the nature of human mind. It is connected with the previous one as Descartes tries to show peculiarities of human thinking and mind. Analyzing this very part, it is possible to say that the author tends to show the idea that a person or things consciousness determines existence of this very person or thing. Providing the example in which the Meditator cogitates whether objects can exist if he does not believe in them or not, Descartes shows readers that human mind is the thing which makes the world real for a person. Moreover, his assumption that a human being is a thinking thing which analyzes and doubts can be taken as Descartes definition of a man. Only a person who has critical attitude towards the world can be called a human. Meditators example connected with wax tends to show that a thing is what it is believed to be because of the intellect (Descartes 36). That is why, one of the main ideas of this section is the importance of intellect and thinking for a human being and his/her understanding of the nature of things.
However, Descartes is not only interested in the nature of common objects and things. Being a bright representative of his age, the author is interested in the nature of God and its existence. Descartes insists on critical analysis of the world, though, at the same time he also tries to prove the existence of God with the help of his own arguments. Stating that something could not appear from nothing, Meditator also uses his previous assumptions to prove the existence of God. Wax is wax because a person takes it as this substance and believes in its existence. The same deals with God. He exists because people believe in it. This argument can be taken as rather ambivalent and contradictory as using the same principle a person can prove existence of a great number of different things. However, one should admit that Descartes logic and the way in which he presents his arguments are rather convincing and lead to better understanding of the some main aspects of religion.
The following meditation about the True and the False results from the previous two meditations. The author poses a question if God really exists and, moreover, if he is the source of our Universe, how such things as error or mistake could happen. In other words, the author cogitates about the nature of the error and the way in which a person can make some false conclusion. One of the possible reasons of the appearance of errors suggested by the Meditator is the limited knowledge which prevents a person to understand the nature of some thing and its purpose which is meant by God. This assumption seems very important for the whole understanding of Descartes philosophy and the nature of knowledge in general. There is no use denying the fact, that mistakes very often appear because of the lack of knowledge and, that is why, Descartes is absolutely right in his ideas about the nature of mistake.
The fifth meditation devoted to the essence of material things also touches the issue of God again. Resting on conclusions made in the previous parts of the work, the Meditator returns to the question of the existence of God and tends to prove it with the help of new ideas. The same deals with objects. Descartes differentiates between clear objects and objects which nature is confused. It should be said that the author also cogitates about some mathematical terms and the issue of perfection. He is sure that perfection includes existence and, that is why, being an ideal creature, God exists.
Finally, Descartes comes to his last meditation which is devoted to the differences between the act of understanding and the act of imagination. It means that the Meditator also wants to show the difference between the mind and body. He states the fact that some object could exist just because God is able to create it. That is why, the author comes to the attempt to show that mental images of the object can be taken as the proof of its existence. It should be said that the idea that imagination determine existence can be taken as rather innovative for Descartes age and even nowadays it could be doubted.
However, it is possible to say that the main aim of all meditations it to present a new way to see traditional objects and make people understand that Western philosophy which bases on Aristotle’s ideas is outdated. Descartes shows that our vision of the world depends on the way in which we obtain and possess information. Critical attitude towards objects, which a person sees, is vital for him/her to understand the world better and. moreover, it helps a person to understand that he/she really exists.
With this in mind, it is possible to assume that the work Meditations on First Philosophy can be taken as the attempt to introduce the main ideas of critical thinking. Thus, Descartes also tries to show people the way in which they could understand their human nature and assure that God really exists. Being reflection of Descartes vision of the world, the given work introduces a new philosophy which helps people to obtain some answers.
Descartes, Rene. Meditations On First Philosophy. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Pub Co, 1993. Print.