Descartes Argument for the Existence of Corporeal Things
Methods and Meditations on First Philosophy is a discourse by Rene Descartes, which largely focuses on the nature of humanity and divinity. This essay is a discussion of this discourse, and will summarize, explain and object to various parts of his work. The majority of this essay focuses on Descartes Sixth Meditation, which includes his argument that corporeal things do exist.
1. There clearly exists a passive faculty of sensing and I use it involuntarily.
2. If there exists a passive faculty of sensing within me and I use it, then there exists an active faculty of producing sense ideas, either in me, or in something else.
3. Therefore, there exists an active faculty of producing sense ideas, either in me, or in something else.
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The second premise of the argument raises questions about how this can be a justified belief. Descartes believe that if there exists a passive faculty of sensing within me and I use it, then there must exist an active faculty of producing sense ideas, either in myself or in something else. Descartes is able to justify this belief that there exists two different faculties of sensing, by using the basic justified beliefs about imagination and understanding and the difference between the two. Namely that understanding goes beyond our ability to imagine something, and Imagination seems to depend upon extended bodies. Through these beliefs Descartes is able to conclude that there must be two different faculties of sense ideas. A passive faculty of perceiving sense ideas within me that I use and an active faculty of producing these sense ideas.
There is a problem with Descartes' foundationalism, however. The problem, for Descartes is that, while everything is based upon each other, if one of the beliefs that provides justification to other beliefs is not clearly justified then none of these beliefs can be taken as truths. This not only shakes these beliefs, but, can question the soundness of his whole argument and any further nonbasic justified beliefs that may arise from the questioned belief. While his argument is valid and seems to be sound, upon further questioning, it may be possible to find that the argument may not be