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Author Topic:   What to believe? Please offer input
Mister Pamboli
Member (Idle past 7654 days)
Posts: 634
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 12-10-2001


Message 31 of 34 (36337)
04-05-2003 1:44 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by John
04-05-2003 10:55 AM


quote:
Descarte was an inventive mathematician but a poor philosopher. Sorry. There are numerous problems with Descarte's "Meditations..." and this is no secret among modern philosophy PhDs'. My intro to philosophy class outlined these things.
Gotta disagree here, John. Descartes was a very fine philosopher indeed. That there are problems in his work is no surprise - there are significant problems in the work of every significant philosopher I can think of.
Most telling is that 350 years after his death he is still essential reading. Up until Descartes no one except Bacon had really thought about method - and Baconian method was primarily empirical. Descartes genius was the application of methodology to epistomology. Sure he had problems with it, but his work is elegant and insightful.
The notion that there Descartes prejudges his conclusions in the cogito is one of those old chestnuts that every philosophy undergrad discovers and thinks they are a genius - like "all statements of truth are tautologies."
It is, of course, correct to point out that Descartes assumes that thinking predicates a mind. In so far as this is all you would say, I couldn't agree more. But don't use that to disparage Descartes. It took another towering genius, Hume, to actually make much progress on this, even though Arnauld, Mersenne and others pointed out difficulties in Descartes work. But the body of his work, in its methods if not in its conclusions, still remains one of the most significant contributions to western philosophy, especially in the areas of the mind-body problem, and the role of doubt in the theory of knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 30 by John, posted 04-05-2003 10:55 AM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by John, posted 04-05-2003 2:56 PM Mister Pamboli has replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 32 of 34 (36339)
04-05-2003 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Mister Pamboli
04-05-2003 1:44 PM


quote:
Gotta disagree here, John.
Respectfully, I cannot retract. Descarte stands out in my mind as the worst of the major thinkers of western europe, though I admit this is largely due to my feeling that his cogito and derivitives is nothing better than amateurish. Granted, he did much better in other areas, and I suppose I shouldn't let a distaste for his most famous quip poison the whole well.
Still, I find very little that translates as genius, outside his work in mathematics. Augustine, in fact, was the first to formulate the idea that thought implies being. Even this wasn't original. And his method of doubt failed him at a critical juncture, or perhaps he failed his method of doubt-- his rules of doubt somewhat spitefully summarized by Liebniz as "Take what you want, do what you should, and you'll get what you want." (The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, under Descarte)
Well... enough diversion.
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No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Mister Pamboli, posted 04-05-2003 1:44 PM Mister Pamboli has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by Mister Pamboli, posted 04-05-2003 6:21 PM John has replied

  
Mister Pamboli
Member (Idle past 7654 days)
Posts: 634
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 12-10-2001


Message 33 of 34 (36342)
04-05-2003 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by John
04-05-2003 2:56 PM


We'll agree to disagree?
Nice that you mention Augustine's "si enim fallor, sum" - it is too often overlooked, but, as I said, it is not so much Descartes conclusions that are impressive as his method.
Discussion of his genius aside, I think Descartes' rationalist method is pretty important to the subject of this topic - perhaps one of the most important aspects of "what to believe" is "how to discover what to believe."

This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by John, posted 04-05-2003 2:56 PM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by John, posted 04-05-2003 11:25 PM Mister Pamboli has not replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 34 of 34 (36359)
04-05-2003 11:25 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by Mister Pamboli
04-05-2003 6:21 PM


quote:
We'll agree to disagree?
Oh, of course. Debating whether Descarte was a great philosopher or not wouldn't lead to much. Its really a pretty subjective thing. And we don't seem to disagree on the key issue, that he assumed that thinking predicates a mind.
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No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by Mister Pamboli, posted 04-05-2003 6:21 PM Mister Pamboli has not replied

  
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