Differential Knowledge Essay

2081 words - 8 pages

If one is not able to differentiate between his dreaming state and his conscious state, then I agree with Descartes' claim that he cannot attain knowledge that derives from his senses. Because experiences in vivid dreams are no more than one's imagination at work, it would be wrong to consider them as more than false beliefs. And, as it is the case that false beliefs are not sufficient grounds of knowledge, Descartes intends to show that true beliefs are doubtable in which equivocates them to false beliefs, and therefore any doubtable belief is not pertinent, vis-à-vis., knowledge. In short, without being able to doubt or deny beliefs that derive from the senses, Descartes' argument does not stand. And here is where I intent to knock it down. I argue that due to one's physiological responses he is able to differentiate between a dreaming state and a conscious state, and therefore one is able to avoid the burden of doubtable beliefs in which allows him to attain knowledge that derives from sense experiences. In order to defend my argument, I will first outline Descartes intention, followed by the methodology with which he formulates his argument. In addition, I will provide examples to illustrate his premises, as well as my awaking twice example, which marks to start of my argument. Lastly, I will address a possible objection to my argument as well as my response.

In meditation I, Descartes' methodology breaks down what we claim to be knowledge and then rebuilds it. He does this by refuting the skeptic view. Here, I will take skepticism as denying all claims of knowledge. If Descartes is able to refute the skeptic then he is entitled to claim that we do know some things. It follows that he must show how we come to such knowledge. Then and only then, he is able to argue for which propositions we know with certainty, that is, beyond mere beliefs or opinions. Here the word "certainty" appears repetitive together with the word "know"; my intention is to show that these words are synonymously used for the purpose of this paper.

Although Descartes appears argue in favour of the skeptic view by initially denying knowledge of anything, this is simply the starting point of his argument. That is to say, by denying all knowledge, he is able to break down everything that we claim to be knowledge, and, to reiterate, rebuild it. In addition, by arguing in favour of the skeptic view, Descartes is able to shed light on the weaknesses of the skeptic's argument, because, ultimately, Descartes intends to discredit the skeptic view. Thus, to put it more formally, his intention is to critically distinguish between what we know and what we do not know. From his distinction, he infers four general concepts: we know that we exist or, more specifically, Descartes knows that he exists; we know that God exists; we know physical objects exist; and finally, the rules of mathematics are knowledge.

Descartes begins his denial of knowledge...

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