Descartes method of doubt is his personal quest for certainty in knowledge, a system that allows us to find a way to be assured that what we feel we “know” is not just a figment of his imagination but an infallible truth. The motivation for his method of doubts begins as a question of the possibility that all his thoughts could be false on the basis that he has had many false beliefs before and could possibly have formed more false beliefs with a fabricated base, and that in order to have stable sciences we must be free from doubt.
In order to start afresh Descartes must demolish his any thought for which he could have doubt, leaving nothing but one simple truth. John Hospers makes an argument against this skepticism with the foundation that we must find some way to reasonably evaluate true from false. Descartes method of doubt focuses on becoming a skeptic of every thought in which he employs any doubt. His method for doubting follows as such, firstly that he will regard any belief as false if he can craft a doubt for it because all thoughts were formed from a possibly false previous one.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
As humans we’ve all formed ideas by our senses that simply are not true. It is possible that our senses are constantly telling us the wrong thing, these senses which we will build yet another idea from. Descartes assumes that it is reliable, when searching for true knowledge, to conclude that any principle that is obtained from our senses is false. His doubts are furthered by the trickery of the content of our dreams, which is assembled and often mimics features we encounter throughout our lives.
It is possible that our perceptions in which we establish a belief on was conjured while dreaming. However there are certain truths in sciences that whether asleep or awake are constantly genuine so in order to completely start at a base point in our beliefs must also take in the role of an omnipotent creator. God has the capability of to manipulate our perceived experiences, and to interfere with our ability to ascertain whether sciences are not a fabricated notion.
This only leaves room for one absolute truth and that is “I am, I exist”. We know that in order to think we must be alive, and we must exist. Once reaching this point Descartes has reached his goal of a blank foundation for knowledge. In opposition to Descartes method of doubt John Hospers challenges the word know, and the conditions of knowledge. Hospers points out that the word “know” itself takes on very different meanings, where the method of doubts uses know in the strong sense, Hospers uses it in the weak sense.
Instead of denying all doubted knowledge Hospers argues that if you know something is not true, then you must know about the topic at hand. Although we cannot deny that Descartes efforts to deny all beliefs were valid for his goal, this argument states that knowing is believing. Unlike Descartes, Hospers assumes if you know something is true then, you believe it, whereas Descartes denies he knows something even if he does believe it, which in Hospers eyes would mean he does not know what knowledge is.
In this argument we are to have evidence for our knowledge, but the extent of our evidence is heavily negotiated, and all that can be concluded is simply that something should not be doubted once all test have been performed that would resolve the doubt. One of the most important points made in the argument against skepticism is that just because you may not know one perception that built another perception, does not mean that you did not know the newer of the perceptions.
Just because your thoughts could be false does not imply that they are false, a hypothesis that Descartes takes on. In main contrast to Descartes argument, it is claimed that if there is doubt then something is simply probable, it does not effect knowing. Basically, why should people be unconvinced of truths that are not relevant to what we recognize as everyday life? The argument is that we should not; we ought to only be concerned with the accuracy in the life we think we live, even if it is a hallucination.
John Hospers argues that we can have complete conviction in our beliefs because there is enough evidence from the past and our own experiences to verify an argument as true. Although Descartes and Hospers make strong opinions, Hospers’ philosophical beliefs on different levels of knowledge and evidence are more persuasive than Descartes’s concepts on knowledge and reality. In my own opinion Hospers only good argument about Descartes method of doubt is that there is a difference in the usage and meaning of the word “know”.
Although he claims to use the weak sense of the word, he completely misses the points in Descartes argument. How can we know anything if we cannot agree on a concise meaning? We must compare “I am, I exist” to “I know nothing, but that I know nothing at all” both of these conclusions hit the same points. The objection does not take into account the real possibility that everything except for our existence in own thoughts could be a figment of our imagination, and that is where we want to find truth; “is this real”?
It would be possible for us to know truths in our believed life, but if that life is simply a dream or a manipulation by God, then none of it is accurate. Descartes makes the critical comparison to a dream, whereas Hospers draws an imaginary line between the dream world and the “real” world. Although it is inconvenient to live life in a constant state of doubt, we must come to terms with the fact that our entire lifetime could just be a dream itself, with no way to understand what is true and false.
It is assumed that knowing means you are obligated to believe, but then what happens if we stop believing. Bedsides the fact that it is missing important components; it does not prove that we should not be skeptical. Hospers give a lame retort overall. Bibliography: Descartes, Rene. Classic Philosophical Questions. Comp. James Gould and Robert Mulvaney. 12th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall PTR, 2006. 246-58. . Various Class Handouts. Hospers, John. “An Argument Against Skepticism. “