Descartes believes he needs to question his beliefs
Descartes believes he needs to question his beliefs because he wants to find what is certain. In order to find out what is certain in life, Descartes begins by not rejecting but putting question marks on his beliefs. Therefore, he begin his First Meditation by stating that there were many beliefs which he believed to be true that he came later in life to find out that they were not true. This is what drove him to start doubting all the beliefs that he held as true. His realization of this made him start questioning every belief that he held. He wanted to find out what is certain and truly indubitable. To find beliefs that were unquestionable or beyond any doubt, he decided to base them on science. He hoped to start afresh on a strong foundation that could not be shaken by any doubts. He sought to find a solid foundation for his beliefs. From this foundation, he was going to establish all his beliefs. Therefore, his first step in creating a new set of beliefs was to tear down all his beliefs. Since he was a man of many beliefs, doubting and question each belief individually was going to be a tall order. To tackle this challenge, he decided to shake the very foundation of his beliefs. He believed that once the foundation was destroyed all the other beliefs will start coming down one by one on their own accord. From here, he will be able to move forward knowing that his beliefs are now certain and are founded on a strong foundation.
Descartes overall goal in the First Meditation was so put on hold all his beliefs, which he had come to discover that most of them were not true. He therefore, decided to call himself into a meeting and try to figure out the way forward. To him, the best way was to doubt his beliefs. However, this did not mean that he rejected all his beliefs. He did not conclude that all he believed would end up being falsehood, but he gave himself room to doubt all of them. Through this, he was going to re-evaluate them and see which ones were going to pass the new established threshold and which ones did not. Those that passed the new test would form the new structure of his beliefs. Those that were going to fail the test were going to be done away with since they were nothing but mere falsehood. In summary, the general goal of Descartes was to rethink about his beliefs and start afresh with a new set of beliefs, which were unshakable.
When deciding which beliefs to hold and which one to discard, Descartes uses doubt as his weapon. Any belief that gives him the reason to doubt it, then he will doubt it. He comes up with first route of listing all his beliefs and then finding a reason to doubt each one of them. Nevertheless, this is an exhausting task and he realizes that he cannot be able to use this method. He decides to use the basic principles that guide his beliefs. If he can find a reason to throw some doubts into these basic principles then he can doubt all the beliefs that are constructed on such principles. It is a more efficient method since he only has to deal with basic principles upon which his beliefs are founded and not individual beliefs. In dealing with individual beliefs, it would be impossible to work on all of them since he has an inexhaustible list of beliefs. To Descartes, senses are what make the basic principles. He states that human are easily deceived by small and distant objects. It appears that humans including Descartes put a lot of trust on their senses. However, these senses have deceived him several times and he is of the opinion that we should not completely trust those who have deceived us even once. Thus, he starts by doubting his senses as a way of getting rid of false beliefs. This is the method of doubt that Descartes uses to find out the true beliefs and those that are not true.Descartes believes he needs to question his beliefs
Descartes doubts his beliefs in specific ways and he uses his situation as an example. To begin with, he states that our senses can be misleading. Since we trust our senses, so much they can simply deceive us without our slightest idea. The sense experience can thus mislead us to believing whatever we feel or see to be true. According to Descartes, we are usually deceived by small and distant objects. This highlights how we are easily deceived by our senses and as such, we should put all our trust in them. Therefore, this makes Descartes to say that we cannot believe our senses and we should doubt them. Another way that Descartes doubts his beliefs is through dreams. He gives the example of someone dreaming and how he or she cannot rely on his or her senses to believe what they are dreaming. Descartes states that when we are dreaming we are experiencing some sense experience that is not real. This is because whatever one is dreaming about is not happening in their immediate environment. However, one is made to believe that what she or he is dreaming about is happening in reality. The person dreaming is having some experience that in all aspects appear like sense experience. He compares the visions that people experience while sleeping to paintings, which are a reflection of the reality. He goes a notch higher and states that if he is dreaming, then he is not seated somewhere in front of a computer and writing. He even doubts whether he is awake or dreaming. Through this, he is able to show how he doubts his beliefs since it is difficult to distinguish between when one is awake or dreaming. One goes through the same experiences even though one is real while the other is not. Additionally, Descartes uses the idea of existence of a super being, God, to doubt his beliefs. He claims that if an all-powerful God existed then he could have created him in such a manner that he is always deceived by his senses. He further goes ahead to doubt his belief about existence of an all-powerful God and starts thinking that he was created by a less powerful God. He concludes that if he was created by a less powerful being, then there were mistakes made during his creation. The mistake causes him to think that his senses are always wrong. In either case, he concludes that he cannot believe his senses and gives another ground to doubt his beliefs. Finally, he uses the idea of existence of an evil demon to doubt his beliefs. To Descartes, the evil demon might be using his powers and cunning to make him have sense experience in the absence of a physical world. Therefore, if this is the case, then he should not trust his senses since what they tell him is not true. It gives him reasons to doubt his beliefs.Descartes believes he needs to question his beliefs
At the end of his doubt about senses, he concludes that only math and geometry can be trusted. This is because the two do not depend on senses and experience. At the end of his doubt about dream, God, and evil demon, Descartes maintains that he has to doubt what he doubts. He reassures himself that he will do all in his powers to ensure that neither a superpowerful nor a cunning being can impose themselves on him. He will continue doubting his senses because they can deceive him. He tells himself that he will not ascent to any falsehood even though this will be an arduous task. He compares what he feels to a prisoner dreaming about doing things as a free man but dreads waking up and finding himself within the confines of his or her cell.
In the end of the Second Meditation, Descartes concludes that he cannot doubt the belief that he exists. Therefore, he becomes certain that he exists and this is beyond any doubt. What leads him to this conclusion is because he doubts his existence and since he doubts that he exists, and then it means he exists.
The Cartesian method, which Descartes used when he was evaluating his beliefs, is based on doubt. It is like taking all fruits from a basket and then only picking the fresh ones. The method allows one to have a strong foundation on beliefs since it only accommodates beliefs that are true. If a belief is doubted and found to be falsehood, then it is done away with. He is justified in doubting the things he doubts because when growing up people are fed with all sorts of beliefs as truths. Just the way Descartes realized that many beliefs he believed were not true, people also grow to this realization. A good case is that of Santa. Children believe it until they reach a mature age and recognize it is just a pure lie. This is a good reason for one to doubt other beliefs. Yes, he is justified on his claim of what cannot be doubted because if he can doubt his existence then it is a clear indicator that he lives. He can think and doubt things, which confirm that he exists. If he did not exist, then he could not doubt his own existence.Descartes believes he needs to question his beliefs