Defeating Descartes

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


This work tries to find a hole in Descartes theory of a demon betraying our senses,

Submitted: May 21, 2018

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Submitted: May 21, 2018

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Defeating Descartes

This work tries to find a hole in Descartes theory of a demon betraying our senses.

We will start the investigation, by simply imagining a situation, which is completely neutral and hereby not affected by any external circumstances.

Imagine you are sitting in a chair and looking outside through a window. You aren't thinking about anything specific, and there is nothing external which affects you as a person at this exact moment. Can anything be said about your existence - if you can be said to exist?

We must, first of all, discuss what it means to exist. Réne Descartes described existence as a result of thinking, and nothing more could be said to exist, except yourself - because YOU THINK, AND THEREFORE YOU ARE. We are not told if any thoughts give you more existence than others, and therefore thoughts in Descartes definition are uniform in relevance. The problem is to accept that existence is limited to the act of thinking, and therefore 'looking out of the window' - the act of doing something, has no relevance to existence in this manner. But can this be really true? Descartes described ex. sensing a meal, or a beautiful view to be a result of work done by an evil demon', whos only purpose is to betray our senses, and therefore, these can't be trusted. Is this fair to be said? Is the view outside the window just the work of a demon?

The first thing to think about is the motivation for this betrayal of our senses. Why can't we be shown the real world? There must be one good reason for this, and a rather problematic one; A God must exist. Hereby we use the term 'exist', but this existence will be different from ours, because a God is supreme, and hereby the God must have a 'super-existence', where it is in the true world, and betrays us all, and hereby creates an imaginary world. But again, why would this God need to betray our senses? Will we be better at seeing true beauty after a life of betrayal? We see in the bible this pattern, where Paradise is the best place to be, and Earth is not. If this is the case, then the intention of this Gods work, is maybe to give humanity a second chance, where we can make the mistakes on Earth, and then we in Paradise can cherish the real world, and make good things come from experience on Earth. The beauty can't be described, because our ideas of beauty come from combinations of impressions from this world.

If this holds, and we are in somewhat of a kindergarten, then our existence must only rely on our thoughts, and hereby we are limited in existence to exclusively thinking and remembering. But what do we think about? If we look outside on something, we might think about something which relates to that thing. We could also be thinking of something else, which has no relation to the sensing of the outside. It is important what we do? And does the physical work create existence? Let’s think about what physical work comes from. Why do we do things? We do things, without doubt, because some activity in the brain made us do it. Here we need to include both instinct and choice. Instincts are known to be ex. Breathing or heartbeats. Choice can more or less rely on instincts – what will I eat today? Or who do I want to have kids with? In general, it can be said that all actions can be traced back to some instinct – also choices regarding other choices. Example: I want to go out for dinner. I do not choose McDonald's, because it makes my belly become larger. I choose to go for sushi because it is healthy. Health itself is not created by instinct, but being fat can make you become excluded from social groups, and you might feel bad for yourself when you get the diseases related to obesity. Here we can conclude that happiness and social acceptance is key instincts which affect the decision-making.

But can social accept be instinct? Social accept could just as easily be the demon who betray you – and other people do not exist in Descartes theory. Then we could be said to be all alone with the demon.

By this, we must conclude that the world Descartes created in this particular example – looking out of the window, is unfair in relevance to the motivation for having a demon betraying me – because I am the only one in Descartes theory. Descartes can hereby not be existing, and hereby we can see that the world Descartes created is really made up by the demon.


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