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Objection to Descartes' View on Senses

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Objection to Descartes’ View on Senses

In René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy he comes to the conclusion in his sixth meditation “On the Existence of Material Objects and the Real Distinction of Mind and Body” that our senses and their operations ought to be mistrusted, and that our own mind - our intellect - is more reliable than any perceived senses. I will investigate the validity of Descartes’ sixth meditation with respect to modern scientific views, particularly those of neuroscience which study the way the physical brain and nervous system is related to perceptions which a mind can have. I assert that the mind is not greater than the senses. This assumes that the senses are working properly, and that the mind is sound and not belonging to that of a madman (137). I also will go back to his previous meditations, and argue that Descartes cannot deduce our existence from the cogito ergo sum argument. Taking into account a scientific standpoint of the senses, it is not fair to claim “I think, therefore I am” (139) if one looks at intellect and consciousness as a result of scientific processes. Rather, all he can say is “I have thoughts.” One of the most concerning assertions Descartes makes is that the intellect is more reliable than the senses. He claims that this holds true because the senses have on occasion deceived him, and it is therefore “prudent for [him] to never completely trust those who have cheated [him] even once.” The senses have deceived him numerous times and have therefore shaken his faith in them (155) - towers which are square have looked cylindrical from a distance, large statues are smaller when seen from a different angle (155), and the sun looks small from the earth despite it’s immensity. But how is it possible that the intellect can have any certainty which it did not receive first from sensing things through experience?…...

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