In 1641 a book was unleashed upon the world that served as the inspiration for every other book on philosophy to follow. This book was Meditations on the First Philosophy, and in it Descartes outlined how he came to the conclusion that God existed and that there is one basic truth. That we exist as well.
Start With ‘Doubt’
Descartes set foot upon this ground of total skepticism and sought to conquer it on its own terms. He started with our perceptions of the external world. Our minds fill in our mistakes of perception. We are creatures who like to catalog things. When we encounter an object, if only briefly, we have to identify it and trigger the appropriate reaction. It is one of the reasons we have survived as a species for as long as we have. We are incredibly good at it. But we are also mistaken about a good many of the items that we catalog. It is because of this that Descartes cast doubt on the external world, be it a mistake of our perceptions, dreams, or an evil demon bent on deceiving us.
“I think therefore I am”
If I am being deceived, be it by my senses, a dream, or an evil demon, I am still the one being deceived. These deceptions prove the existence of one thing.
I think therefore I am.
Recommended Reading (or works mentioned in this podcast)
- Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings - Rene Descartes
The music in this episode was provided by the following artists:
- Amazon Truth by LockeDown