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Tyler Sample PL 101 032001 Can Doubt lead to Understanding Descartes opens his Meditations indicating his desire to have only true beliefs One way to accomplish this is to doubt everything he has learned that might be subject to error He does not intend to doubt the truth of every specific idea that comes into is head but instead to undermine the foundation of his views To determine if our beliefs are justified we have to be able to trace them back to a statement belief or proposition that cannot be doubted Descartes saw that Mathematics held the only true and believable facts If achieved such a proposition could place the firm foundation on which all subsequent beliefs could be grounded it would guarantee that all subsequent claims based on it would be true In his writings he ultimately hopes to achieve absolute certainty about the nature of everything including God the physical world and himself It is only with clear and distinct knowledge of such things that he can then begin to understand his true reality In order to acquire absolute certainty Descartes must first lay a complete foundation on which to build up his knowledge The technique he uses to lay this base is doubt If any belief can be doubted it is not certain therefore making unusable as a foundation Descartes starts by looking at our usual sources for truth Authority which is churches parents and schools he says are not reliable sources because time shows we all die and that we are eventually proved wrong much in the same way the accepted truths of Science have changed dramatically over the course of history Also he considers the generally accepted view that our senses dependably report the absolute nature of reality Like authority though Descartes discards the senses as a source of truth because of the belief that based on the senses there is no definitive way of
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