Was Descartes Right?
Rene Descartes was a renowned mathematician, writer, physicist, and philosopher. He was born on 31, March 1596 and died on 11,February 1650 (Watson, 2007). Descartes was a contemporary with Galileo Galilei, a famous physicist (1564-1642). He wrote the quote “I Think Therefore I Am” in part of his scholarly work “work “Discourse on Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences” which was published in 1637. These phrase signifying the understanding of the mind and the body as an unarguable reality, which perhaps is the foundation of modern philosophy. As a result, Rene Descartes is considered the founder of modern philosophy (Watson, 2007).
Was Descartes right?
If you are a lover of philosophy, then I am sure you must have read about Descartes and if you have not, you must make an effort to read his work. There have been many counter-arguments to Descartes’ “Cogito ergo sum” (Couto&Couto, 2006), and many scholars have tried to prove how his words “I Think Therefore I Am” is unjustified. However, they have failed to replace these words with something much better. Philosophy consists of theory just like science and other disciplines. Even if Descartes is not right, it is still important to read his work because it is the foundation of the modern history. Isaac Newton ideology in some concepts in physics was wrong; however, without his idea, it will be quite hard to understand some concepts in physics (Descartes &Haldane, 2005).
The main reason the phrase ‘I think therefore I am’ are hyped too much since it is the foundation upon which any new philosophical idea develops. Descartes may have failed to put his ideas in a more convincing way, but on a substantive basis, it is irrefutable. Therefore, the counter-proposition on the phrase lacks supportive evidence. The problem with Descartes’ statement and work based on the philosophy is the fact that he did not have enough evidence to prove his work. In other words, his work has a lot to do with guesswork in a way that convinces you that you are thinking, yet you are just being deceived.
The solution of Descartes is a reflection that his work is an elicitation of God, which was based on the notion of perfection. From a philosophical point of view, his arguments do not exactly pan out, but you have to understand that Rene Descartes was working for the church when he came up with this thesis; thus, he was trying to prove the existence of God – where you do not need evidence to prove that something exists. This aspect is the main reason many critics think that Descartes was (and is) wrong, thus the real weakness of his work. Moreover, some of the critics think and feel that Descartes was not atheist, but just a mere philosopher who needed paycheck at the time (Descartes& Haldane, 2005).
From another point of view, it is difficult for a person to show and argue with the concept of existence if he or she is not self-aware. If you think from a logical perspective, then one can quickly conclude “I think therefore I am” is simply a tautology. However, in order to recognize the flaw in Descartes’ paper, you have to prove that once you think, then things exist and that this is possible. Even though the work of Descartes has some flaws, it is important that you read Meditations that you will be able to make tangible arguments against his work.
The significance of Descartes’ work is not like other philosophical works, where people doubt then they are proved otherwise. Instead, the work Descartes is because people believe the facts, but they are only unable to establish the facts. So, was Descartes right? Well, there is no doubt that he did a better job than most people did during his time. Even though his arguments are full of holes, Descartes asserts that DOUBT is a faculty of a certain type of thinking and a knack of a person’s consciousness.
Couto, J., &Couto, S. (2006). You think, therefore I am:Cogitatis, ergo sum. New York: iUniverse.
Descartes, R., & Haldane, E. S. (2005).Discourse on the method of rightly conductiong the reason and seeking for truth in the sciences and Meditations on first philosophy. Stilwell, KS: Digireads.com Pub.
Watson, R. A. (2007). Cogito, ergo sum: The life of René Descartes. Boston: David R. Godine.