Meditations on First Philosophy: Rene Descartes
Rene Descartes in his meditations tries to investigate the truth that exists between the perceptions brought about by human faculties. He suggests that every issue thought to be true or exists should first be subjected to doubt before it can be given a finality of whether it is true or false, right or wrong, existent or illusion or godly or ungodly. In his first meditation, Descartes creates an impression that doubt is the first step of investigating the reason for the existence of things as they are perceived to be. He challenges people that probably the things they perceived to be as they thought were so because of assumptions or lack of in-depth investigation.
I concur with him in his first meditation because most of the things people arrive at without deep thought become disapproved afterwards. The act of doubting things, including those which we may have perceived to be true earlier is critical because it gives us an opportunity to question why we think they appear as they are. Doubt enables us to discern the feelings our faculties are subjected to because of the situation we are in and the real state of the matter without consideration of what we are subjected to feel. Imagination could lead to making wrong conclusions about how issues are if we do not first doubt what we imagine and afterwards subject it to an investigation to know the reason we should agree with the same.
The second meditation looks at the nature of human mind and the body. Rene Descartes implies that the human mind is more known as compared to the body. He claims the mind processes thoughts that are responsible for the actions that the human body does. When we sleep, we dream and in the dreams, we seem to be doing things that are real and which we do when we are awake. The difference is that we do them unconsciously and they happen in environments that exist. During sleep, people are unconscious about what happens around them, yet they can still generate situations about their daily activities in their minds. The mind is brought about in this meditation as being so powerful and is distinct from the body. The mind is responsible for what the body does, and it can never cease to exist because even during sleep it still functions. What is generated by the mind should also be subjected to doubt first before being qualified as usefully true because we could be dreaming.
Descartes compares what occurs in dreams and what happens when people are awake and points out the relationship. The relationship of the two occurrences is in their settings and also the way in which they occur. However, the former is imaginative while the latter can be substantiated because it involves the mind and the body. I agree with Descartes when he likens a dream to the act of painting a picture. Even though a painting shows real things, it is imaginative conception of the mind.
The third meditation subjects the existence of God to doubt to understand if He controls the way people do things. Descartes points out that the behavior of man must be as a result of an external power controlling everything he does. When a man believes in his mind that what he does is contrary to the will of this external power he ceases to do it. Such an argument is a phenomenon and it I agree with Descartes. Most people believe that a supernatural being somewhere is responsible for their existence. Such beliefs come about as a result of the inability to explain situations without the element of doubt. When a man reaches a point where he can no longer explain the nature of what he sees for thinks, he leaves it for the supernatural being. All these conclusions can only be reached by first subjecting what we earlier believed into doubt.
In the fourth meditation about truth and false, doubt is still the first step of the investigation. Something can only be taken to be true when the opposite is considered false. A person under the influence of a strong drug, for example, can experience hallucinations about things that do not exist. If such thoughts are not subjected to doubt and further investigation, people can be convinced that a normal person does not see what the affected person sees just because they are not in the drunk state. The fact that sober man does not see what the drunkard sees does not mean they are true or not true. Doubt must be cast to such a situation to know what is true and that which is wrong.
I agree with Rene Descartes in fifth and sixth meditation the existence of material things, existence of God and the distinction between the body and the soul. I, however, disagree with his suggestion that God could be held accountable for the wrong things that people face. The mind perceives God to be responsible for bringing into existence everything that supports life. Our minds perceive good things and attribute them to lack of manipulation from fellow human beings. For example, as time passes, people cut down trees and as a result, there are climatic changes that lead to suffering. If the mind considers God, the supernatural being to be the creator of all things, then it is true that He must have created them whole, a state which is pure and good (with reference to the example of forests above). If we agree that all creation is perfect, then it cannot be true that God could be responsible for our suffering.
“Meditations on First Philosophy.” Selfpace.uconn.edu. N.P., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016 http://selfpace.uconn.edu/class/percep/DescartesMeditations.pdf