Descartes' Method of Doubt

By Janet Broughton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
4

Reasons for Doubt

THE MEDITATOR begins his search for reasons for doubting his former opinions by considering his former opinion that what his senses tell him is true. Even a little reflection shows him that what his senses tell him is not always true: sometimes they deceive him, for example, when he is looking at things that are small or far away. So he revises his approving opinion about the reliability of his senses: he holds in effect that what his senses tell him in favorable circumstances is true. His examples are these: “that I am here, sitting by the fire, wearing a winter dressing-gown, holding this piece of paper in my hands, and so on” and “that these hands [and] this whole body are mine” (2:13; AT 7:18). It is not clear exactly what leads him to say that he has formed these opinions in favorable circumstances. They don't involve looking at things that are small or distant; they don't involve situations that create sensory illusions, like the differing media that make a half-submerged oar look bent; they don't involve expert identifications or discriminations, as when a gardener judges that what he holds in his hands is an Icelandic poppy.1 But it is hard to tell whether one or another of these features is supposed to define this class of opinions.

The meditator at first says that “doubt is quite impossible” (2:13; AT 7:18) when he considers what his senses tell him in favorable circumstances. But he goes on nonetheless to offer two reasons for doubting these opinions, first by comparing himself to a lunatic, and then by reflecting upon dreaming. After he raises the lunacy and dream considerations, the meditator asks himself whether any of his former opinions

____________________
1
Though one culture's generic objects may be another culture's exotica. If shown a seventeenth-century winter dressing gown, I don't thinkI would know what sort of garment I was looking at, and few seventeenth-century inhabitants of the Americas would have been able to identify the flat thing in the meditator's hand.

-62-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Descartes' Method of Doubt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Descartes's Method of Doubt *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Descartes's Method of Doubt *
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Raising Doubt *
  • Chapter 1 - Who is Doubting? 21
  • Chapter 2 - Ancient Skepticism 33
  • Chapter 3 - Reasons for Suspending Judgment 42
  • Chapter 4 - Reasons for Doubt 62
  • Chapter 5 - Common Sense and Skeptical Reflection 72
  • Part Two - Using Doubt *
  • Chapter 6 - Using Doubt 97
  • Chapter 7 - Inner Conditions 108
  • Chapter 8 - Outer Conditions 144
  • Chapter 9 - Reflections 175
  • References 203
  • Index 211
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 217

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.