Rene Descartes and Rationalism - Bayt al-Hikmah Institute
Rene Descartes and Rationalism Lecturer: Dr. F. Budi Hardiman Biographical Notes
1596: born on 31st March in La Haye Touraine 1604: entered the Jesuit College in La Fleche, studied natural sciences and philosophy of scholastics i 1613: studied law Poitiers 1615: studied mathematics in Paris
1617: Military service in Bavaria, Germany 1621: Traveled to Swiss, Poland, Italia 1625: lived in Paris 1629: emigrated to Netherland 1637: published Discours de la Methode 1641: published Meditationes de prima Philopophia, debated with Gassendi, Hobbes and Mersenne 1644: published Principia Philosophiae
1650: was dead in Stockholm Le doute methodique Method is rule that can be used to find the solid foundation of our knowledge. Descartes tried to find this absolute foundation that cannot be shook by mere opinions or claims of belief His method was unique and has not been practiced in the history of western philosophy the method of doubt What happens, if I
doubt everything? Our knowledge comes from tradition, authority, socialization etc. Is it fictitious or real? If we doubt the mathematical axioms, metaphysical claims, religious beliefs or everything in our experience or sense of perception, then we stay in an situation in which we loss all certainty. The dream or fiction cannot be differed from the reality. Descartes provoked us to assume that the material world is only an impression that is produced by a genius malignus (an intelligent devil).
Cogito or The Result of the Doubt about the Doubt If we doubt everything, i.e. the material world outside or the spiritual world inside, we reach the point in which we are doubting cannot be doubted anymore. So, the fact that we are doubting is not doubtful, but certain. It is not refutable. Descartes concludes that I doubt or I think (Latin: cogito) is the certain and solid foundation of our knowledge.
Je pense donc je suis I think cannot be refused. It means also that I think exists. In other words, my consciousness that I am thinking now demonstrates that I exist as a thinking being. Descartes says shorter: Je pense donc je suis (I think therefore I am/ Cogito ergo sum). The Consequences of the These on Cogito
The reality outside of us is constructed by our thought. As a construction of our consciousness it depend on our subjectivity. The reason, i.e. our faculty of thinking, is the only source of human knowledge. It is a priori in character, i.e. the knowledge does not come from the experience, but from the logical principles of our reason. These consequences are very critical, because they test belief, dogma or authority under the control of reason. The Doctrine of Innate
Ideas Where do the I think come from? Descartes answers this question that  the faculty of thinking is inherent to us. It is an innate idea that we have since we were born. There are another innate ideas, i.e.  the idea of extension through which we know our body and the material reality outside of us and  the idea of God by which we strive to perfection. The Doctrine of
Substances The three innate Ideas, i.e. thinking, extension and God, are not only inside of us, but they stand also outside of us. Because our thought, i.e. the idea, constructs the external reality. So, Descartes teaches us that there are three substances or kinds of reality outside of us, i.e. res cogitans (or thinking thing), res extensa (or expanding thing) and God. The three substances are not only in our though as ideas, but also exist outside of us as realities. The Existence of God
God is an innate idea. We can think of God because of this idea. But God is not only in us, i.e. in our thought. He exists outside of us. This argument that concludes the existence of God from the fact that we have an a priori knowledge of God is called ontological argument. This evidence of God existence through ontological argument can be traced back to the British medieval philosopher Anselmus of Cantenbury. Religion and Philosophy
Cartesian View of the existence of God show us the role of philosophy to approach the religious phenomenon rationally. Philosophy has no claim to substitute the religion. It tries to understand the religious phenomenon with our reason. But what for? It is right that the religious phenomenon is beyond rationality, but the rational understanding of religion can make the religious experience more discursive and communicative. And rational discourse protects us against an absolutization of subjective religious experience.
Ontological Argument God in our thought God in the external reality Anthropological View Descartes sees the human body as res extensa that is separate from the human soul or res cogitans. So, we find here the dualistic view of man that claims that man consist of two separate substances, i.e. the material and the
mental reality. In our body there are a bridge that connects our body and our mind. It is the glandula pinealis. The body is mere lhomme machine (human machine) and the soul is the steering faculty that is comparable to a captain that steers the ship. Body and Soul Cartesian view on the relation between body and soul approaches the Platonic dualism. According to the body and soul dualism our body is material in
character, whereas our soul is spiritual and eternal. The soul takes control over the body machine. World religions still believe in this kind of dualism. Critique on Descartes Representationalism Is it true that what we think can be found also in the external reality? A picture does not always correspond to the picture object and vice versa. This bridge
problem shows the basic difficulty in the cartesian philosophy. Rationalism According to cartesian View of Reality the objective world is a rational entity that can be known by means of our rational consciousness. So, the history of modern philosophy begins with a optimism that the human reason can grasp the reality. Descartes is the father of modern philosophy and the forerunner of rationalism
The other Rationalist Baruch de Spinoza: monism and pantheism the being as single substance Leibniz: pluralism the reality consists of multitude tiny units called monads. Pascal: le coeur a ses raison que la raison ne connait point le pari Newton and Modernity Newton influents deeply the modern thought. The thinker such
as Leibniz assumes the mechanistic world view that bases the modern physics.
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