Descartes uses a specific sense of method for arriving at knowledge.
Descartes arrives at certainty that he is a thinking substance, that God exists,& that there is an external world of extended substance.
Descartes ’ method is an intellective approach for gaining indubitable knowledge.
Wiker interprets Descartes ’ method as a usefu one, for our daily use.
Wiker gets it wrong.The method of doubt is the means by which one arrives at the indubitability of the claim: I am thinking, therefore I am.
He realizes that even if his sense perceptions deceive him, even if he can ’ t tell his dreaming experiences from his wakeful ones,& even if an evil demon were deceiving him about the credibility of his mental operations, he is still thinking.
But Wiker thinks it “ ridiculous to single out thinking as the act by which I know I am existing. ” He thinks that Descartes ’ cogito formula is: “ While I am doing X, I can ’ t doubt my existence b/c I have to exist to do X. ” He concludes that Descartes ’ cogito “ is not essentially tied to thinking. ” Wiker ’ s position is that Descartes could have been just as certain about his existence if he had claimed: I smell, therefore I am.
Worse, I may think I ’ m having the sensation of smelling a rose, but I could be dreaming it.
In the secon case the reliability of my erceptions are in doubt, but at least I seem to know that I ’ m having experiences of the world.
At least if that were the case, Descartes thinks, I still have knowledge of conceptual notions-whether I ’ m dreaming or not, all triangles have 3 sides.
Yet, Descartes realizes that there is one proposition whose truth is indubitable-I am thinking, therefore I am.
Wiker is wrong.In Descartes ’ ontology, putatively real things such as color, sound, taste, odor do not exist in things.
Everything is known to us by means of the attribute of thought; but we can understand this thinking mind as having various thoughts over time.
A key to Descartes ’ epistemology is the principle of clear& distinct perception.
3) We can only know substance by means of clear& distinct perceptions.
Contrary to Wiker ’ s claim, it was not idiculous for Descartes to single out thinking.
Descartes said the opposite: that thought ca n't “ impose any necessity on things, but the necessity which lies in the thing itself determines me to think in this way. ” Descartes ’ proof for God ’ s existence purports to demonstrate that God ’ s existence is necessary.
This is contra Wiker ’ s assertion that the proof for God ’ s existence makes God ’ s existence depend on our thought of Him. Descartes holds to the opposite view: our idea of God depends on the possibility of God ’ s existence, not the contingency of our own thought.