Descartes: Evil Demon Essay

1532 words - 7 pages

Karthik Keni
Phil 21
Greg Antill
Part A: 1. The Evil Demon Argument
In Descartes’ First Meditation, he completely shatters the foundations of his previous beliefs and then uses the evil demon argument as a platform in which he can explain the source of his beliefs. Descartes proposes the evil demon argument because he wants to instill doubt not only in himself, but also in his audience that God may not be the only “Supreme Being”. He believes God to be a good being that wouldn’t deceive us and lead our thoughts astray. The evil demon argument has the purpose of casting doubt on his belief that God is the only being who has the capability of implementing thoughts into his mind, creating ...view middle of the document...

Possibility in this argument could be defined as something that could cast even the smallest doubt of existence of an evil demon that controls human beings. Descartes’ evil demon argument continues with this possibility of a mirage world and this aids his main objective of finding a strong foundation for true knowledge.
Descartes would like to find a base for knowledge that would leave without a doubt and that would be defined as definite certainty. He uses the evil demon argument to find this definite certainty because his claims in the argument create a systematic doubt. This systematic and methodical doubt is a step-by-step process in which he claims in Premise II that anything that has even the slightest chance to be doubted should be perceived as being false and wrong. With this skeptical argument stating that there is a possibility that the evil demon is controlling our mind, then we can’t completely trust our senses because they’re doubtful and thus must be perceived as false. The whole purpose of Descartes in this line of thinking is to find that definite certainty for which he can create a foundation for all knowledge. The evil demon argument provides support to the idea that nothing in our external world is definitely certain, and that this argument must be verified as false if he wants to continue his objective of finding true knowledge.
The evil demon argument provides a platform for Descartes to doubt the certainty of our senses because it was seen as a radical stance at the time because of the pressure by the empirical movement in Europe. Another philosopher by the name of David Hume believed that all our knowledge was attained through our senses. The evil demon argument did not only support his idea that we could cast doubt on the existence of an external world, but also that one could question the belief that God was the only one who could implement thoughts into our mind. His existence of God is much a bigger issue but this lays down foundation for him when he tries to prove the existence of God in the Third Meditation. Another secondary function of the evil demon argument is that he continues to look for definite certainty of knowledge and that this theory must be proven to be false, otherwise he would not be able to continue searching for the foundation of true knowledge.
Part B: 4. Dream Argument vs. Argument From Illusion
The Dream Argument and the Argument from Illusion found in the First Meditation of Descartes both contain similarities and dissimilarities as skeptical arguments. However, with dissimilarities these arguments must be evaluated in a different light as two separate entities. Thus, Descartes made them separate arguments in his First Meditation and as a part of three main arguments to lay foundation of casting doubt of his life up to this point. Both of these arguments are comparable in nature with purpose and structure, however differences between the Dream Argument and the Argument from Illusion allow us...

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