Phl 302
Dr. Uzgalis
Winter 1996


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Reading Guide: MEDITATIONS III--VI

Brief written answers to 5 and 9 are due in class on ...

  1. In the beginning of Meditation III, Descartes gives a criterion for certainty of knowledge. What is it?

  2. How does Descartes deal with the problem that he previously thought it certain that there were earth, stars, and other objects apprehended by the senses? What about the certainty of very simple matters of arithmetic?

  3. Why does Descartes think he needs a proof for the existence of God?

  4. What are the different kinds of ideas which Descartes distinguishes and how do these relate to his proof that God exists? What is his proof of God's existence?
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  5. Having proved that God exists in Meditation III, Descartes begins Meditation IV by showing that God cannot be a deceiver. How does he show this? what relation does Descartes find he is in to God at the beginning of Meditation IV?

  6. Why does Descartes claim that it is impossible for God to ever deceive him? Given that Descartes' faculty of judgment comes from God, it seems that he could never fall into error. But he does. How does he account for this?

  7. What is the source of falsity and error? How can it be remedied?
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  8. At the beginning of Meditation V, Descartes says that his principal task is to endeavor to emerge from the state of doubt into which he has fallen in these last days. Before considering material objects, however, he takes up the ideas of them in his thought. How does a consideration of such ideas lead him to this second proof for the existence of God? What is the proof? What objections does he consider to his proof and how does he answer them?
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  9. How does Descartes reason that his faculty of imagination is capable of persuading him that material things exist?

  10. Why does Descartes decide to investigate the nature of sense perception? How does he proceed (3 steps)?

  11. Having explained what he formerly believed on account of the senses, what reasons does he have for doubting them?

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