Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Renee Descartes’ philosophy was very a methodical and deep study involving questioning reality. His development of the Method of Cartesian Doubt helped him to establish what he could truly accept as a valid answer to a question.
His famous quote, “I think; therefore I am,” shows how he used his method of questioning and reasoning to get to the truth of the matter. His intense emphasis on mathematics and sciences influenced these ideas, and lead some to say that he is the father of modern philosophy.
Descartes example of questioning reality, or as he says you can look at the statement, “I am awake reading this right now,” and find the answer by accepting that it is a valid statement without any other doubt. If you have ever seen the movie Inception http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/plotsummary starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it has Descartes ideas down to a science. The movie is based on the fact that it is possible to achieve an “inception” of the brain while dreaming. The idea that you can convince someone of something (such as a statement or action) inside a dream, and it will affect that person’s thought process outside the dream. The hardest part, as they examine in the movie, is the perception of reality. Once you go far enough into the dream, there is a point where you cannot differentiate between reality and the dream. They use a special token item (Leonardo DiCaprio’s is a spinning top) —the one thing that convinces them, without a Cartesian Doubt as Descartes would say—that allows them to know they are in the “real world”. The spinning top falls if he is in reality because of the force of gravity which is absent in dreams. Needless to say, Descartes ideas are highly influential in the ideas presented in Inception.
Going further on the topic of dreaming, Descartes credited his passion for philosophy through the visions that came to him. Whether these were an effect of the “nervous breakdown” that he was claimed to have, Descartes philosophy still, was very influential to many students
Descartes also, used the method of Ontological and Trademark arguments to provide his argument that God does exist. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy describes, “[Descartes thought] Existence is derived immediately from the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being.” This idea goes along with the fact that Descartes could accept with no doubt that the definition of a God would trump any argument that such God could not exist. How can something not exist if that something IS something? Many people will not accept this, although it is a valid argument.
Throughout all of Descartes questioning, it does appear that someone can get closer to the truth, and, furthermore, use reasoning to decide for themselves. In actuality isn’t that science by definition: Coming closer to the truth by experimenting and using what we know after experimenting and questioning? Science is always making use questions to find the answer or answers. Through this Descartes’ hard work and philosophy provide excellent inspiration.