• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess Decartes Sceptical Doubt and Its Use in the Quest For Certainty

Extracts from this document...


"Assess Descartes' sceptical doubt and its use in the Quest for certainty" (25) Descartes uses several methods of using sceptical doubt to prove his quest for knowledge or certainty. He takes the position of a functional sceptical to initially doubt knowledge so that by using an Aunt Sally technique, he can destroy the argument and submit his genuine argument for knowledge. He however overlooks some major points and there are flaws to his thought processes. Descartes initially states that many of his common sense opinions are incorrect, filled with error and prejudice. He sets out to discover knowledge that is undeniable and unquestionable. He says that he is going to strip himself of all his former knowledge and start back from the basics and try and set up from the foundations on which to build a body of knowledge. Descartes starts by taking the position of a Functional sceptic. ...read more.


The knowledge he is seeking is for definite certainty and is right in the fact that your senses cannot do that. Descartes moves to the second wave of doubt which pushes the process of doubt even further. He says that he "often has dreams which are very like real life and that he is unaware that he is dreaming". This again attacks the empiricist and strips him of the fundamental experience to gain knowledge. The fundamental criticism with this argument is that it is self refuting. He says "I am sometimes unaware I am dreaming" which he then leads to "I may always be dreaming". This is a contradictory statement. You could also point out that the definition of a dream is "a state of mind characterized by abstraction and release from reality". This therefore means that if all life was a dream, there would be no reality, nothing to differentiate between reality and a dream with. ...read more.


Because he is able to doubt, there must be something that is doing the doubting, and therefore he exists. However this solution is flawed for one reason, that he is using his logic to deduce this. Descartes believes he has defeated the malicious demon and therefore has set the base on which to build his argument for knowledge. However in truth, the skeptical argument against knowledge still stands, preventing any arguments for knowledge to exist. This means that everything else he starts to create off the statement is unjustified. This flaws his progression to find absolute certainty of knowledge. In conclusion, Descartes has a very good method on which to discover absolute certainty. His plan to destroy all foundations of knowledge which allows him to rebuild his ideas upon is a very good way to gain certainty. However he overlooks some major points and there are flaws in his thought processes. He almost rushes through the initial skeptical argument to show his actual argument and does not fully explore the possibilities. This halts his ultimate progression in his Quest for Certainty. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Evaluate Descartes Method of Doubt

    We as readers are encouraged to go on this journey with him, but any truths he establishes are confined to him and him alone, not to everyone. Coming back to foundationalism, Descartes attacks every source of knowledge with his 'three waves of doubt'.

  2. The Search for Certainty - Descartes, Meditations.

    Descartes could counter this argument by using his Archimedean point, whereby it is not always necessary to prove that something is right to accept that it is, because some facts will remain true no matter what. Descartes had effectively made a post hoc ergo procter hoc statement whereby he assumed

  1. Discuss the characteristics of the scientific method which makes it superior over other methods ...

    If this prediction holds then you will not be able to reject your hypothesis. If this prediction does not hold then you will reject your hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experiment tests.

  2. Descartes method of systematic doubt

    Descartes then progressed his argument by saying that other senses could not be true. While he is writing this meditation he is sitting by a fire in a warm room and argues that for all he knows he may not be sitting in that warm room by the fire.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work