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Descartes and Socrates -- What Knowledge Is Two Approaches to Knowledge The concept of knowledge what it is what it means and how it is gained has been debated for literally centuries Philosophers historians social scientists have questioned the components of knowledge and its acquisition and developed their individual theories based on the cultural and intellectual developments of their age Many of the major ideas that are most often linked to the 18th-century French Enlightenment originated as a part of Cartesianism or the philosophy and mathematical ideas and methods developed by 17th-century philosopher Rene Descartes 1596-1650 While he is most famous for his cognito I think therefore I am that proclamation is less than an accurate or meaningful statement as it relates to the reality of what Descartes believed to be the existence of humanity and humanitys understanding of what knowledge truly is Descartes The Meditations was published in Paris in 1641 and has come to generally be viewed as the most important of all of Descartes works It is in The Meditations that he best presents his metaphysical and epistemological premises in their entirety He considers the problems of the sources and nature of knowledge the validity of truth the nature and destiny of man the existence of God as well as the creation of the universe Socrates devoted his time energy and considerable intellect to the pursuit of truth knowledge and virtue He did not formally teach in the fashion of other philosophers of his time His method of educating was to involve others in conversation seeking chiefly by questions to cause others to think clearly and to act reasonably His life mission was to require people to think Certainly his most famous statement was that the unexamined life was not worth living He also was determined that his words be conveyed on a level by which people could better understand their own motives and thoughts and thus
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