Rene Descartes' Philisophy

Descartes asserts that the natural light of reason is the single faculty of human beings that leads to enlightenment and growth in knowledge. Based on his idea that the acquisition of intuition is like the sun’s rays, Descartes uses visual metaphors to explain the real and unreal objects. He believed that a certain level of intuition is manifested in the natural light. This implies that the natural light blinds peoples’ mental powers from further reasoning and visualizing about the real world.  The main point is that the proper configuration of the mind facilitates the realization of the truth. Using the natural light of reason enables one to formulate clear and distinct visions that are experienced through intuitions in the mind (Burnett 2005). In this regard, one realizes that not everything, but an essential starting point for truth. Additionally, the notion of the natural light of reason and the configuration of the mind are abstracts as to the relationship that exists in the realization of clear and distinct ideas.

While attempting to explain the mental intuition prevalent in a person, Descartes uses the hyperbolic doubt observed in varied glasses. His success is depicted by the relationship that he noted existed between the human vision and the way optics facilitated vision. After a systematic investigation of this relationship, optics presented instantaneous light that enabled focusing to result in clear and distinct images. Often, the clear and distinct images were because of the interposition of a hyperbolic form. From an effective human mind analysis and the alignment with its cognitive operations observed, Descartes noted that the human mind distinguished real objects via the natural light of reason. Moreover, it explains why instantaneous, clear and distinct illumination is only realizable through any hyperbolic focusing device, in this case assisted by the hyperbolic doubt. Adopting this concept enables intellects to realize the value of reason in understanding reality. Furthermore, whatever people conceive in their minds is exactly similar to what they anticipate in reality. This implies that Descartes’ use of natural light of reason is a significant contribute to the understanding of the human existence and some aspects of the human nature. Although the dynamism of knowledge seems to reveal more of the human nature and existence, Descartes’ ideologies contribute immensely to the mastering of the subject.

Through Descartes’ emphasis on the natural light of reason as streaming from individuals rather than God, it is reasonable to declare that imagination adopts the role of focusing hyperbolic lens. In this regard, it receives the lighting originating from an individual, which rapidly penetrates through imagination distorted by the excess blinding image formation within the senses. Therefore, intellect can visualize objects in reality. By understanding Descartes’ ideologies, intellects can realize that whatever people formulate in their minds are the exact things they see in reality (Descartes 2002). In this regard, reason becomes an essential element in understanding what comprises reality. Furthermore, it is important to note that the reasoning of an intellect assisted by the senses enables one to form appropriate conceptions of the reality.  

Descartes’ rational attempt to prove the existence of the soul provides an insight into the understanding of the human nature. Although his ideologies regarding the subject may be uncertain, it has considerable impacts on the study of the being. Under one of his meditation, Descartes uses the reasoning ‘cogito, ergo sum’ to discover the aspect of the being. Having assumed that he has a body endowed with sensory organs, he attempts to profound on the same issue how such matters indicate the sense of existence (Descartes 1996). Using the metaphysics concept, he understood that his beliefs could be falsehood. Considering the notion that he was probably being deceived facilitated his conclusion that he indeed existed. Moreover, the understanding that an evil demon could be deceiving him implied he must have been in existence to be deceived. The idea that he existed was fostered by the knowledge that every idea formed by his mind, attempting to prove whether he existed, implied that he existed for him to enquire about it. Repeatedly, the use of ‘I am’ and ‘I exist’ was necessary to indicate that he existed before challenging the concept. Additionally, the concept that he was thinking, regardless of whether his thoughts were true or false, implied that there must have been an object engaged in the activity resulting in his conclusion that he existed. The Descartes’ discovery of the existence of the soul portrayed the reality of existence of the soul, which provides an insight to any truths to be deduced regarding the subject matter.

Descartes’ conclusion on dream that ‘I think, therefore I am’ (‘cogito ergo sum’) significantly degrades the integrity of the human life since it reduces humans to mere rational animals. His analysis that human beings are objects endowed with the ability to use language and reason indicates that there exists no convincing idea regarding the concept of value attached to human beings. In this regard, the perception of the human body and the mind implies that human beings are animals with only integrated souls and minds to think. People offer different reactions to this fallacy, which his meditations do not prove appropriately. Similarly, Descartes’ meditation on the existence of God as based on perfection, asserts that the existence of human beings is virtually based on their ability to think and conform to God’s desires. In this regard, he emphasized that every belief is neither true nor false unless we presume God’s existence. Additionally, he indicates that the clarity on any belief or the clear distinction between ideas is based on the degree of God’s perfection and existence (Descartes 2002).

Meanwhile, the procedure adopted by Descartes in proving God’s existence, seems similar to those used by other metaphysicians. This indicates that propagation of such a concept is diverse to permit its validity. Nevertheless, Descartes’ meditation regarding the subject provides guidance on the principles of understanding God and man’s natures. In a way, the explanation of God’s existence was subject to the correlation to Christianity teachings prevalent in his lifetime. Considering that contravening the biblical teachings during that era would have led to condemnation, Descartes borrowed the concept of the supremacy of God to define the nature of man’s existence. Regarding the meditation on the nature of human and God, he asserts that the validity of the truth of the subject matter is based on one’s certainty (Descartes 1996).  In this case, the presumption that clear and distinct ideas are true is prone to subjectivity. This demonstrates the pitfalls of his ideologies. Nevertheless, Descartes based several of his meditations on the grounds of certainty without proving the need of certainty based on dilemma. This fact is portrayed by the ideas that he postulated through reasons such as God is perfect and the endowment of man with the ability to use language and thoughts.    

Descartes’ dualism meditation regarding the distinction of the human body and the mind creates confusion regarding where the body ends and the mind begins. The idea presented regarding the nature of the human body and the mind as being different and completely opposite is controversial. He asserts that the mind is a non-material thing without any other expansion while the body is a material thing that lacks the ability to think. In this regard, each substantial subject has its own modes of functionality and behavior. For instance, the mind has the capability to understand and sense while the body is define by its motion, shape and quantity.  Additionally, bodies do not have the ability to understand or reason, while minds cannot influence the modes of motion or size because their sole function is to reason. On this note, Descartes argued that the human body and the mind interacted at the pineal gland to stimulate the body functions. In his meditation, he suggested that the pineal gland was the main point of the soul that influences on reasoning and creating human actions.

Notably, when explaining the nature of the existence of the human body and the mind as separate entities, there are some difficulties regarding Descartes’ postulation. For instance, difficulty is witness when sometimes the body is driven to an action. This can be demonstrated by a student’s urge to answer a question, which stimulates him or her to raise the hand. While noting that every action of the body must be caused by the contact between the human body and the mind, it indicates that the two substantial materials participate on recurring body movements without easy accessibility to the role played by each. Moreover, the limbs’ movement demonstrates this concept where the mind poses the need to move while the body takes an initiative of lifting the limps. From this example, it is realized that both the human body and the mind causally interact to cause bodily movements.  In this regard, the different natures of the human body and the mind are hindered by their interaction. Without resolving such complications of the concept, it becomes significantly difficult to understand the distinction between the human body and the mind. Nevertheless, Descartes defended his assertion by claiming that the distinction between the human body and the mind need to be determined by solving the misunderstanding about the union that exists between them.

One of the main contentions that Descartes and John Locke mentioned in their philosophical concepts and that differ, is the notion of innate ideas. Descartes asserts that some ideas that are unexplainable by the mind’s creation are innate. On the other hand, John Locke asserts that at birth, the human being mind is a tabula rasa or “blank slate” devoid of any ideas of self or God. For Locke, innate ideas should be universally similar and prevalent in the mind without the need to activate them in any form (Locke 1959). On this note, he asserts that we acquire knowledge by involving our natural faculties without any assistance of innate impressions. At the same time, the analysis of children’s basic logical statements does not reflect in any way a sign of knowing. This implies that for the truth of the use of reason, we cannot use innate knowledge, but rather by acquired thought and engaging faculties appropriately, can we reason.

After analyzing Descartes’ multiple assertions, John Locke suggests that the mind can gain all ideas and knowledge through the sensory inputs and reflect upon them. In this regard, it makes innate ideas unnecessary and insignificant towards the understanding of the human nature. Based on the concept developed by John Locke, it challenges innate ideas by using identity, God and infinity. This notion provides a clear indication depicted by natural faculties other than the value of innate ideas. Initially, the analysis of the identity of an individual should be identified clearly and distinctly for the innate impression to succeed. Similarly, the difference in the conception of God as indicated by the variations in cultures and social backgrounds indicate that the notion is not innate but a social construct. Additionally, Locke suggests that the mind can manipulate the finiteness of observed things to develop an infinite expansion to them. In this regard, it depicts that the mind can develop complex ideas from the insignificant available data indicating the irrelevance of innate ideas.  

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