Slide #1.

Descartes’ Meditations
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Slide #2.

Descartes’ First Meditation • Four bulldozers of doubt: – I can’t trust my senses – I could be crazy – I could be dreaming – A malicious demon could be out to fool me. • Is there anything you’d stake your life on?
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Slide #3.

Is anything left standing?
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Slide #4.

Descartes’ Second Meditation • • • • • Is there anything I can’t doubt? I can’t doubt that: I doubt. Try it: I doubt that I doubt. OK, but then: I doubt that I doubt. Self-certifying process: Doing it makes it so. • So, “I doubt” is absolutely certain.
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Slide #5.

Is anything left standing? The bulldozer itself. The bulldozer can’t demolish itself!
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Slide #6.

Self-affirming statement John Madden: “There isn’t a person in this stadium who’s left yet.”
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Slide #7.

Self-undermining statement: • Teacher (calling roll): Johnny? • Johnny: I am absent.
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Slide #8.

Descartes’ Argument • I doubt.  I think.  I exist. Cogito Ergo, sum.
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Slide #9.

Descartes’ Argument • I doubt.  I think.  I exist. Sound argument? Is it valid? valid Doubting is a kind of thinking.
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Slide #10.

Descartes’ Argument Sound argument? • I doubt. Are the premisses  I all true? “I doubt” think.is self-certifying.
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Slide #11.

Descartes’ Argument • I doubt. • I think.  I exist. Is this argument sound? Is it valid?
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Slide #12.

Evaluating Descartes’ Argument: • If I am dreaming, or the evil genius is deceiving me--then there is a “me” that is being deceived! • But “I” exist, only as a thinking thing. He hasn’t proven the existence of his body. • Has he proven that you exist, as a thinking thing?
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Slide #14.

Evaluating Descartes’ Argument: • • • • • Only proves his own existence: “Solipsism” (solus=alone + ipsi=self). The Problem of “Other Minds”. You have to prove your own existence. Who/What else can prove their own existence?
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Slide #16.

Evaluating Descartes’ Argument: • Are you absolutely certain that he exists? • What kind of proof is that? • Doesn’t a proof have to convince everyone? • A proof has to be objective. • Descartes’ proof is subjective.
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Slide #17.

Evaluating Descartes’ Argument: • “I doubt” and “I think”: • Where did the “I” come from? • Is it a metaphysical entity or is it just a grammatical convenience?
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Slide #18.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) “We should say ‘it thinks’, just as we say ‘it rains.’ To say ‘I think’ already assumes too much.”
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Slide #19.

Evaluating Descartes’ Argument: • We know with absolute certainty that there is doubting and thinking. • But do we know with absolute certainty that there is a unified consciousness that is doing the thinking?
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Slide #20.

Buddhist conception of the self: The notion of a unified self is an illusion.
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Slide #21.

David Hume: Scottish Philosopher (1711-1776) The self is: “nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions.”
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Slide #22.

Descartes’ Meditations Has Descartes found an absolutely solid foundation to build on? His own existence as a thinking thing.
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