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Descartes Study Guide Review

by: Yasmin Agah

Descartes Study Guide Review PHIL 230

Yasmin Agah
Cal Poly

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These notes cover what is going to be on the Descartes Exam (midterm #2) for PHIL 230, Miklovitz
Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality
Class Notes
philosophy, descartes, midterm, review, study, guide
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Yasmin Agah on Monday February 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 230 at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo taught by Miklovitz in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 45 views. For similar materials see Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality in PHIL-Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.


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Date Created: 02/15/16
Phil. 230: Philosophical Classics Dr. Paul Miklowitz PLATOAND DESCARTES REVIEWS: descartes-and-plato-773212 Descartes Review Questions Med. I 1. Why does Descartes begin by doubting everything he thinks he knows? He wants to start philosophy a new, then build it up logically and deductively from a foundation of certainty. he wants to clear the path for scientific path that proves everything even God. 2. How is Descartes' method of applying skeptical doubt different from traditional skepticism? In that he is using to derive knowledge instead of disapproving things he is going backwards 3. What does Descartes find he can he doubt? Why can he doubt it? He can doubt composite things like medicine,astronomy, or physics: because it can be broken down, idea of the senses certain about composites, all of those things can be deceived something has to exist 4. Why is Descartes' doubt of the senses less radical than Plato’s? Plato doesn’t believe in the senses at all... Descartes has required what he accepted as most true through the senses or from the senses.And time to time they have found the senses to deceive and he believes that is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once. but this relates to objects that are small and seem far away 5. Explain how Descartes applies his method of systematic doubt first to particular knowledge claims, and then to ever more general claims. How does he manage to doubt the most general of all such claims? He doubts particular claims by using the sense doubt, general claim(we can know things and we have to - dream doubt and the evil demon 6. What can Descartes not doubt? Why can't he doubt it? Simple things: arithmetic and geometry, shape, quantity, size, time ext. they cant be doubted : cause God wouldn't trick you —What is the Demon he is talking about? By doubting everything he can be sure about what? He supposes that not God, but some evil demon has committed itself to deceiving him so that everything he thinks he knows is false. So if he doubts everything he will not be misled into falsehood by this demon. Med. II 7. Having proved the necessity of his existence, what does Descartes go on to show that his essence is in the second meditation? my essence or defining characteristic is thought: I am a thing which is real and which truly exists. But what kind of a thing? as i have just said... a thinking thing 8. How does Descartes prove the necessary existence of a metaphysical soul (that is, the necessary existence of "thinking substance") in the second meditation? He thinks there for he is? If he can doubt and be deceived there for he must be an 'I' 9. Why does Descartes insist that the reasoning in the first and second meditations establishes more than merely the claim that he is his thoughts? HE IS NOT JUST HIS THOUGHTS, thoughts CANT NOT JUST THINKABOUT THOUGHTS, YOU CAN THINKABOUTANYTHING, THE THOUGHT CANT JUST THINK IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT THINKS 10. What point(s) is (are) demonstrated by the passage about the ball of wax in the second meditation? he exist, a thinking thing, his mind is better known than his body, and that all clear and distinct perceptions come by means of the intellect alone, instead of senses The wax: its color shape and size are plain to see, its hard cold and can be handled, sound, it has everything in which appears necessary to enable a body to be known distinctly and when put by the fire and it melts and the those attributes are altered it is still wax. our knowledge of solid and melted piece of wax are the same can not come through senses since all the sensible properties have changed. Two reasons why I am a thinking thing? 1. Im not a material thing-material things are known through the senses, and can be doubted, but I can not doubt by own existence 2. I am not just my thoughts- a) thoughts don’t think themselves-b)personal identity requires that I am something over and above particular thoughts Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am Med. III 11. Give three reasons why Descartes believes he must prove the existence of God. 1. validate clear and distinct ideas, so you can think of things an know you are right, the only way you can prove that you can know it 
 2. So the church so it doesn’t fear science
 3. morals depend on a belief in God 12. How does Descartes first arrive at the criterion of "clarity and distinctness"? About what is Descartes clear and distinct at this point in the Meditations? Clear and distinct is that we exist with undoubtable certainty: idea that there are specific things that cant be doubted even by the demon and the rest of his bull shit from the beginning 13. Why is "clarity and distinctness" so important to Descartes? it is key for scientific knowledge 14. What is meant by "the light of nature”? If by the light of nature, I cannot imagine something I conceive to be true to be false because no faculty that could reveal my error 15. How does the discovery of the epistemological criterion of clarity and distinctness lead to the necessity of proving God's existence? certainty of self, proved by fact that is known clearly and distinctly which then means it must be true 16. Why would God be a deceiver if it turned out that any of Descartes' clear and distinct ideas were false? the perfect God that rd believes in would never make 2+2 is 4 and it really was seven...He is certain that he is a thinking thing and he clearly and distinctly perceives this fact. He could not be certain unless all clear and distinct perceptions can be certain. Therefore, he concludes, whatever he perceives clearly and distinctly must be true. 17. How does God's existence ensure that mathematical claims are in fact true? Because if he let us believe 2+2= 4 but really was seven and that would be deception and deception is a deficiency and God is perfect+ therefore not a deceiver= Math claims true 18. What is the "Cartesian circle”? CC- In order to prove the existence of God, RD will need the criterion of clarity and distinctness: in order to be confident that criterion is valid, God must exist. The only secure reason we have for believe that what we clearly and distinctly perceive is true, is the fact that God exist. But we can be sure that God exists only because we clearly and evidently perceive that; there fore, prior to being certain that God exists, we should be certain that whatever we clearly and evidently perceive is true 19. What are the three different kinds of ideas that Descartes distinguishes at the outset of the third meditation? 1. innate ideas: truth, thought, existence, and unity, ect, not derived from experience ex idea of my own existence and derive simply form my own nature and immediate certainty 
 2. ideas which originate in something external
 3. Idea which i invented my self 20. What are the three different levels of "formal reality" Descartes distinguishes? 1.infinite substance: God most reality, self caused, encompasses all things, w\out limit in time or space.
 2. finite substance: objective things: people, chairs, trees, etc
 3. attributes: Characteristics of finite substances: redness, hardness, ideas 21. Why is "infinite substance" (if it exists) said to be "more real" than "finite substance"? Infinite: God, Finite: people, chairs, trees, etc Infinite substance is God, and finite shit is made from infinite 22. Why is "finite substance" said to be "more real" than “attributes”? attributes are just characteristics of finite objects 23. In what sense is finite substance relatively dependent? In what sense is it relatively independent? dependent because they rely on infinite substances
 independent because even you remove all attributes No THING remains but not NOTHING 24. What are the only possible examples of finite substance and attributes thus far in the Meditations? were organisms : horse, oak tree, human 25. How does Descartes know that he is only a finite substance? he couldnt of created himself, I would of given myself all the attributes of perfection of which I have idea. Nor can I sustain myself in being 26. What kind of substance is the universe? Why? finite- although quantitatively infinite, it is still finite because to be infinite you are qualitatively infinite: it cant create itself, nor can it sustain itself in being 27. What does the term "objective reality" mean? (Explain what it means to say that ideas "borrow" a part of their reality from the things of which they are ideas.) objective reality- refers to the formal reality of whatever it is that the idea represents or is about like finite substances borrow the idea from God 28. What is the first step of Descartes' third meditation proof for God's existence (the principle of the conservation of "reality" borrowed from physics)? 1. there must be at least as much reality in any given cause as there is in its effect: "what is more perfect- that is contains in itself more reality--cannot arise from what is less perfect ex.: when 2 pool balls meet, the one that is struck does not move away faster than that of the ball which struck it 29. How does Descartes apply the formal/objective reality distinction to this principle to prove God's existence? The Clincher: there must be at least as much formal reality(infinite/finite substances) in the cause as there is objective reality( reality of an idea,refers to the formal reality of what ever it is the idea represents or is about) in the effect
 an infinite substance must exist as the cause of our idea of an infinite substance 30. In what sense is the idea of God more real than my own mind? In what sense is it less real? 31. Explain the "creation by negation objection" (and how it constitutes an objection to the third meditation proof); explain Descartes' reply. God is infinite and our own mind is finite and finite can not create infinite... but one of objective reality is the idea of God( (formal reality) and you need at least as much formal as objective reality, Creation by negation- why cant a finite being produce the idea of an infinite being by negation (the contradiction or denial of something) by negating the finite is how he got infinite(GOD)- the reply was the idea of perfection is logically prior to the idea of imperfection: how would I be able to doubt in the first place of have any sense of my own limitation and finitude if I did not first the idea of infinity again which I find my self lacking. 32. Why does Descartes say that his idea of God is more clear and distinct than his idea of himself? (Response to the creation by negation objection.) how would I be able to doubt in the first place of have any sense of my own limitation and finitude if I did not first the idea of infinity again which I find my self lacking. 33. What would the objective reality of the idea of God be if the "creation by negation" objection were valid? That God came from us and instead of us coming form God? 34. Explain the "thousand-sided-figure objection" and Descartes' reply. How can I have a clear and distinct idea of an infinite substance if I am only a finite substance, perhaps the idea is materially false? materially false- occurs in ideas, when they represent no- things as things ex is heat real or just the absence of cold...
 Reply1- even if my idea of God is not ultimately adequate to God, there is still too much objective reality in that idea for me to be its cause(opens up superman objection, not good)
 Reply2. we must distinguish between imagination and reason(wax: he cannot imagine all the possible shapes that wax can make, but understands them to be infinite
 Main answer: i can imagine a triangle, but not 1000 sided figure, but i can still understand it, therefore God exist even though i cant imagine what he look like, but can understand the Idea 35. Explain the "you're-not-living-up-to-your-potential objection" and Descartes' reply. explanation- maybe I am an infinite substance who has not yet realized his infinity and thus I can be the cause of my idea of an infinite substance
 Reply: must distinguish between actual and potential perfection:1: my idea of an infinite substance is actual 2.have to be more than potentially infinite to cause the idea of an infinite substance, the objective being of an idea cannot be produced merely by potential 36. Explain the "Superman objection" and Descartes' reply. Can there be a being greater than be but not quite God, who gave me the idea of God. No, this being would have to be finite substance and, it could not be the cause of an idea with an infinite objective reality 37. How does Descartes' response to the "thousand-sided-figure objection" potentially leave him open to the "Superman objection"? he said if his idea of God was not adequate, there is still more objective reality in it than I could be the cause of. objective reality is either infinite or finite and anything less than God is finite. Leaves him open because the SM objection is saying a more infinite than him self could produce the idea of God: and your either infinite or finite Med. IV 38. What is the "problem of theodicy" in the context of epistemology with which the fourth meditation is concerned? "Error is not something real which depends upon God, but a deficiency deriving from my intermediate position between supreme being and not-being" 1. thus, I do not err because of faculty God has given me
 2. but surely God cold have created me incapable of error. So is it possible that I am better because I can err?
 a) the freedom and infinity of the will "above all... why i understand myself to bear in some way the image and likeness of God” 39. Why does Descartes say that it must be the case that I am somehow better for being able to make mistakes than I would be if I could not? Why does RD say that it must be the case that I am somehow better for being able to make mistakes than I would be if I could not? he finds himself somewhere between God and nothingness because he is a finite being and when he is wrong it is not the result God but RD non being and lack of perfection.. he then realizes him self in the big picture and he might not be perfect by him self but in the universe he might be 40. Why does Descartes say that his will is infinite--indeed, every bit as infinite as God's own will? this is because the will simply consists in our ability to do or not do,or rather, it consists simply in the fact when the intellect puts something forward, we either do or not do and number feel ourselves to be determined by any external force but he can not judge something that he does not know, but he looks at the big picture of the universe and how he might be alone imperfect but in the universe he might be perfect. 41. Why have I "no cause for complaint on the grounds that the power of understanding or the natural light which God gave me is no greater than it is”? Natural light is I cannot imagine something I conceive to be true to be false because he has no power himself to reveal it was an error 42. Why are both will and understanding needed before one can be right or wrong about anything? cause you can not judge if you do not have the will to understand just as RD can judge his knowledge on he thinks there for he is cause he understands. 43. How does the combination of will and understanding lead to the possibility of error without God's being at fault, according to Descartes? God gives us free will and error is thus the result of an incorrect application of the understanding 44. How does this analysis explain the paradoxical claim that we are actually better for being able to err than we would be if we could not? error is the result of an incorrect application of the understanding and if we get correct it allows to learn and understand 45. Is it possible for me never to make mistakes? What would I have to do in order to achieve this? to with hold judgement on any occasion when the truth of the matter is not clear 46. Why is God not capable of mistakes? How does this square with Descartes' claim that I am better for being capable of error than I would be if I were not? 47. Why can't the "infinite" free will be the cause of my idea of God—thereby undermining the third meditation proof? Med. V 48. Explain how Descartes reasons that some of our ideas contain implications which seem to be necessarily true because they describe properties of objects which, once noticed, "are ones which I now clearly recognize whether I want to or not”. One of these qualities is existence, so it follows from his clear and distinct perception that God must exist. If existence is the essence of God, then God would not be God if he did not exist, just as a triangle would not be a triangle if it were 49. Explain the "ontological proof" for God's existence. What are Descartes' specific contributions to this classic proof? ontological proof for God's existence- God is "something than which nothing greater can be conceived" since i have this idea, it follows that something at least exists in my mind... Descartes revision... existence is an attribute or predicate.. argument is explicit 2. analogy with geometry.. we can no more think without contradiction of a supremely perfect being which lacks existence than of a triangle whose three angles don’t equal two right angles 50. What does it mean to say that, in the "Ontological proof," Descartes regards existence as a “predicate"? It means that existence causes something to be greater than something that doesn't exist. 51. Briefly explain Kant's critique of the ontological proof. existence is not predicate.. is or exists does not add to the content of a concept, but rather posits an object answering to a concept Med. VI 52. What are the reasons common sense believes in the existence of material objects, according to the opening discussion in the sixth meditation? Why are these reasons not sufficient? While I have no knowledge of things other than through my ideas and perceptions of them, we cannot be sure they are not produced by something unknown to us that isn't those actual objects. 53. Explain the relationship between ideas and minds that Descartes re-affirms (from the second meditation) as the first premise of his proof for the existence of extended substance in meditation six. There are multiple kinds of thinking, none of whichARE me. Therefore, I must be a substance in which different kinds of thinking can go on in. 54. How do the ideas of motion, changing posture or shape, etc., establish the existence of extended substance, according to meditation six? We have the ideas of motion and such and therefore, since we have the idea of motion in material bodies, it follows there must be an extended substance (whether or not we actually can move is irrelevant) 55. Is my idea of motion clear and distinct? If so, why? If not, why not? No, it's not. Motion is derived from the senses and can therefore not be clear and distinct. 56. What must be clear and distinct in order to establish the proof of extended substance in the sixth meditation? The existence of God. Otherwise, we cannot be justified in saying that material substances and moving substances exist or that motion is actually possible. 57. What are the three criteria that the sense experience of any particular material substance must satisfy in order for us to be (relatively) sure of its existence? How does one's own body satisfy these criteria? 1) If you can conceive of a difference between things that must exist separately, then they must exist.
 2) Recognize the abilities of the self that are distinct from thinking.
 3) God must exist. 58. What does Descartes conclude the relationship between mind and body is at the end of the sixth meditation? They are connected to each other, and our minds are in our bodies 'like a sailor in a ship' 59. In the sixth meditation, Descartes concludes that "hunger, thirst, pain and so on are nothing but confused modes of thinking which arise from the union and, as it were, intermingling of the mind with the body." Explain. Since we feel things that happen to the body, and feeling actually happens in the mind, it follows that the body and the mind are intimately connected and are not independent of one another. 60. How does Descartes resolve the concern that he may be dreaming at the end of the sixth meditation? Dreams are not subject to memory as is wakefulness, and is not a constant stream of memory (dreams have gaps of memory)


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