Rene Descartes sought truth by questioning.

Like many philosophers, Rene Descartes sought truth by questioning.  Descartes wanted to find a truth that he couldn’t find a way to question or doubt no matter how hard he tried. So, he looked for ways to put everything in doubt.  Doubt became his tool to find a truth beyond doubt.

Descartes found only two things he couldn’t doubt.  (1) He couldn’t doubt that he was doubting, which means he couldn’t doubt that he was a thing-that-thinks or a thing-that-is-aware of thinking/doubting; and (2) he couldn’t believe that God the Creator of all things would play games with his mind and make him think he saw physical reality and make him think 2+2=4, when in fact, it was just a trick programmed into the human mind.

To see how Descartes’ doubts got into the movies, here is a video (10 minutes), explaining how Descartes can be seen as the Matrix with Neo: LINK (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Let’s do some doubting of our own, following Descartes’ method to find something we just can’t bring into doubt.  Please answer just one of the two questions, unless you want to answer both.

[1] What are some of your nagging doubts about what you’ve long been told, what you’ve believed, been taught, experienced, or what you’re supposed to know?  Think of something you’ve always been so sure about.  Can you find a way to bring it into doubt, using Descartes’ method?  As an example, image the shock of this young woman when she told her mother she wanted to a DNT test: LINK (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..  Imagine your own DNA test delivering a shock to something you had just taken for granted.  How might you respond to such news?  How might it shake your sense of who you are?

[2] Listen to this TEDTalk about the mind creating its own reality: LINK (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..  What do you think about the world as a hallucination?  Is this in line with what Descartes concluded?  Do you think our world, your world, is a mental creation, at least in part?


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