René Descartes Meditations

René Descartes and the Nature of Human Existence

René Descartes, a French physicist, mathematician, and philosopher who is regarded as the founder of western philosophy, rose to prominence after the publication of his Magnum Opus Meditations in 1641. He muses about the nature of man's existence, namely his mind or soul, in his first and second Meditations. In order to achieve this, Descartes proposed that the mind creates a body of thinking in a way that can be compared to a structure. Our body of knowledge is built up layer by layer, with each one acting as the foundation for the one before it. "Once a building's foundations are compromised, the rest falls down" (Descartes, 1). I think Descartes’ analogy is an accurate depiction of the human psyche and how it accumulates information. An instance of this is the intense psychological changes that children of divorce go through. One substantial event, such as the end of the marriage between two parents, can cause their child to call into question the entire institution of marriage, and by extension, the definition of, and what passes for a healthy relationship.

Descartes' Pursuit of Truth through Doubt

In his pursuit to call out falsehood from his knowledge base and belief system, Descartes seeks any reasonable cause for doubt within the underlying foundational principles on which his beliefs rested. “So all I need, for the purpose of rejecting all my opinions, is to find in each of them at least some level of doubt.” (Descartes, 1). I think that Descartes’ method reflects the most effective strategy that any person could employ during self-reflection to isolate truths that were undeniable. While sifting through all his beliefs would consume time, looking for sufficient reason to doubt the core concepts on which his beliefs were founded would significantly further his quest for truth. Through logic and reason, Descartes in Meditations effectively calls into question his entire body of knowledge, searching for doubt and rebuilding his knowledge base on the foundations of reason and critical thought.

Works Cited

Descartes, René. Meditations. 1st ed., 1641.

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