Descartes Essay

The essay will consist of two parts:  1) In the first and shorter part (approximately 1 page) you will explain why Descartes sets out to doubt everything he once thought he knew and how he arrives at the one immediate certainty that he exists. (It will also be useful in this context to say something about how according to Descartes in Med. 4 we can avoid ever being in error).  2) In the second part which will form the bulk of your paper, analyze and critically evaluate one of the arguments by which Descartes attempts to prove either a) the existence of God or b) the existence of an external physical world. You have two choices here: choose either a) or b) as your focus and, if you choose a), focus on one of the three arguments by which Descartes tries to prove God’s existence, briefly indicating how it differs from the other two. Analyzing an argument requires clearly stating and explaining all of its steps as well as showing how they logically lead to the conclusion. Critically evaluating the argument requires you to question each premise (is it true? Is it vulnerable to objections? Can counter-examples be brought against it?) as well as the logic of the argument  3) Your conclusion should state why you either do or do not think, based on what you have shown in your paper, that Descartes has succeeded in arriving at the knowledge he sought.  General guidelines:  1) Provide page references to document and support everything you say, using the numbers on the margins of the text.  2) Go through several drafts of your essay, editing for clarity, accuracy, and organization: qualities that are absolutely essential in an essay of this type.  3) Proofread the essay carefully before submitting the final version. Essays that are practically unreadable on account of awkward and ungrammatical sentences, typos, etc., will not receive a satisfactory grade.  4) Let your own voice be heard, but in such a way that you argue for and support what you wish to say. A sentence beginning “I wish to demonstrate that.. .” is perfectly acceptable, but a sentence beginning “I feel that…” is not.  5) Remember that the issues Descartes is dealing with are important issues. Learning to care about them, think and reflect on them, before starting to write. That will make all the difference. Book:René Descartes,Meditations on First Philosophy, with Selection from the Objections and Replies