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Cartesian Circle

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By dingo1117
Words 1098
Pages 5
Rene Descartes, like many philosophers immersed himself in many aspects of life including both art and science. One major topic he addressed in great deal regarding philosophy was whether or not we could have absolute knowledge, including that of the external world. He is considered by many people to be a foundational rationalist. He used both the aspects of foundationalism and reason to prove it was possible to possess true knowledge. After finishing his meditations he felt he had indeed accomplished this task. However, many philosophers have found problems with his reasoning. One philosopher in particular, Antoine Arnauld, felt one of his most important proofs employed the use of circular reasoning to prove his argument. This has become known as “The Cartesian Circle”, and it has given rise to great debates over the years. This paper will set out to prove Descartes does in fact commit the error of circularity. Using foundationalism as a starting point Descartes starts with the most basic intuition anyone can have, “I think, therefore I exist”. This is a self-evident truth which is true because he clearly and distinctly perceives it, and it is impossible to doubt. Throughout the rest of his meditations he uses a series of intuitions to reason the truth of the external world. Once he has nearly proved its existence he was forced to prove God exists and God was not a deceiver in order to rid the skeptical argument of an evil demon constantly deceiving us. Eventually Descartes is able to intuit that God does exist and could not be a deceiver because God is a perfect being. Perfection implies deceptionless existence. Based on those meditations Descartes states “we are sure that what we clearly and distinctly perceive is true only because God exists.” This seems to be okay on the surface. However, Arnauld’s objection states “we can be sure that God...

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