Lecture 10

Review of previous lecture.

The Athenian population during Aristotle’s first time there were very anti-Maccedonian. Aristotle fled to Uberis – he wandered in Asia Minor and did marine biology. The early aristotle was a Platonist.

Aristotle acquired between his times in Athens a growing awaremenss that his philosophical work must focus on the experience of reality.

During the Middle Ages there were rival schools and a loss of conviction about certainties.

Descartes was confronted with that. he was raised a Catholic and trained by Jesuits. He began to be sceptical himself – he longed for certainty and developed anew method of philosophy.

It was this that Locke attacked; we have to understand Descartes to understand Locke.

There was so much scepticism with France – so Descartes thought how can I show these people that they can be confident about the philosophical results? How can they be assured? How can I prove it to myself that these results can be relied upon – that’s where modern philosophy begins.

Begins in non-Christian (not anti-Christian) setting.

Descartes: ‘When I say God I mean all the geometrical rules in the universe’

A Discourse on Method (1937) published in French
[Six]Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) in Latin

How does Descartes go about it?

Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding has four books.
The first ‘Of innate notions’ and attack on Descartes (hence we have to understand Descartes)
The second ‘Of ideas’ this is where he develops his empiricism.

Decartes begins by calling everything into question.
Let’s doubt it.
One thing I can’t doubt I that I’m thinking – doubting is a form of thinking.
Doubting presupposes thinking.
Cogito ergo sum
I think therefore I am
The ‘I am’ doesn’t mean a person, a body; but a thinking rational soul, a thinking substance.
I have a starting point – thinking substance res cognitas

Now, what does he do?
He claims to have founded a new tradition and yet the whole past comes flooding in!
In my mind I can conceive of a most perfect being.
A being that possesses every possible conceivable attribute.
If it lacked one attribute it wouldn’t be the most perfect being – I could conceive of another being with that attribute.
Existence is an attribute.
Therefore, God exists.
(An ontological argument.)

The argument is derived from the nature of a divine being.
Descartes an now go on to pour into this concept all the medieval presuppositions.
• God is perfect
• God wouldn’t deceive me
if I have a clear and distinct perception of something I can be sure it was true.

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