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Rene Descartes Before Descartes philosophy of perception was much more straightforward - you either saw something or you didnt Descartes noticed how hard it is to differentiate between seeing something in a dream and seeing the same thing in waking life could give eg here Our senses can obviously be deceived so how do we know were not being deceived all the time How can we tell when were dreaming and when were awake He reached his infamous conclusion arguing that even the most convinced sceptic must be certain of ones own existence as a thinking thing I resolved to pretend that nothing which had ever entered my mind was any more true than the illusions of my dreams But immediately afterwards I became aware that while I decided thus to think that everything was false it followed necessarily that I who thought thus must be something and observing that this truth I think therefore I am was so certain and so evident that all the most extravagant suppositions of the sceptics were not capable of shaking it I judged that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking Discourse on Method 432 From this platform he believed it possible to use our clear and distinct ideas to demonstrate the existence of god to establish the reliability of our reason generally despite the possibility of error to deduce the essence of body and to prove that material things do exist From the cogito I know that I exist and since I am not perfect in every way I cannot have caused myself So something else must have caused my existence and no matter what that something is my parents we could ask what caused it to exist The chain of causes must end eventually and that will be with the ultimate perfect self-caused being or god Now we know that there
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