Using the link for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and assigned text, Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, (Meditations I & II), answer the following questions in complete sentences.
1) There were the two fundamental ways Descartes broke with the Scholastic tradition. The first has to do with the Scholastic reliance on Aristotle’s understanding of substantial forms being explained by final cause. What are the reasons (two) that are given for his refusal of the use of substantial forms as an explanation for the nature of things? What kind of principles are better suited to explaining the phenomena of the physical sciences?
2) What is the second way that Descartes broke with the Scholastics and what did he replace their thesis about the nature of knowledge with?’
3) Explain the tree metaphor that is given by Descartes as an image of holistic view of philosophy in Section 2b: Descartes’ Project of IEP.
4) In terms of method, Descartes uses geometrical style demonstration rather than syllogisms. Explain what this means and why he does this.
5) What is Descartes’ aim in Meditations on First Philosophy, according to IEP? Find where Descartes explains his aim himself at the beginning of Meditation I of Meditations on First Philosophy and provide the quoted material.
6) IEP explains that Descartes called all of his previous beliefs into doubt. What are some of these beliefs that are presented therein and how does he come to doubt them? Please be sure to read Meditation I in Meditations on First Philosophy carefully alongside this section so that you can see how Descartes develops his method of doubt.
7) The IEP explains that this process of doubt is properly called skepticism and it is the bedrock of Descartes’ method. The method is called Cartesian Doubt, and also methodological doubt. What does the IEP emphasis as important to realize about this method of doubt? What is the point of this methodological doubt and the ultimate goal?
8) In Meditation II of Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes does discover something that is beyond doubt. It is Cogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am). Explain why Descartes thinks that one cannot doubt this, using both IEP and Descartes’ reasoning from the text.
9) What is the nature of the mind as described by IEP and Descartes? What are its characteristics and faculties? Assignment 9: Study Questions for Descartes Readings Page 2 of 2
10) The IEP explains that the modes of a thinking substance are its ideas. Descartes distinguishes three types of ideas: fabricated, adventitious, or innate. Explain what each is.
11) Descartes comes to the conclusion that the mind is better known than the body. This claim is important for the theory of rationalism, because it strengthens the view that the source of our most certain knowledge is pure reason, and that we can know fundamental truths without recourse to sense perception. Explain how the wax example helps him prove this.
12) Think the definition of Rationalism as the theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge. Explain how Descartes’ realizations support this theory.
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