Rene Descartes Impact on World of Philosophy

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René Descartes was known to be a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. He wasn’t any of these three things for the beginning of his life, as he did spend about twenty years in the Dutch Republic serving within the Dutch States Army. He was one of the most well-known intellectual representatives during the Dutch Golden Age. According to Wikipedia, René Descartes was born in La Haye, Touraine on March 31st, 1596 to a Roman-Catholic family. During time he was alive, Descartes accomplished a great deal of things, mostly on the field of philosophy.

Descartes basically describes himself as a “thinking thing.” He uses the Cogito, which is his saying shortened into that word in particular by other philosophers. He argues that he is certain with the way he thinks, because he really is not certain of any other existence but his own mind. He is also a man that believes more on the judgments of his mind rather than his senses because he states that that is the way he can gather knowledge. In the text, Descartes writes, “Well, the first thought to come to mind was that I had a face, hands, arms, and the whole mechanical structure of limbs, which can be seen in a corpse, and which I called the body” (174.).

What Descartes is discussing here is supposedly who he formerly thinks he was. As he discusses this, he goes into deep thought about it, constantly asking himself questions. This brings forth the reason to why Descartes does consider himself a thinking thing, as he basically over thinks things when he thinks about something. The quote from the text mentioned above proves that Descartes is a “thinking thing” as he states it, and he does go into detail when it comes to thinking about himself and the world around him. When it comes to the word “Thinking,” I perceive it as when you’re sitting in your thoughts for an amount of time looking back at things such as experiences, things that have happened throughout the day, or solving something like a math problem or a tough decision.

Thinking is a very important quality for a human being to have, as it is what helps them function throughout the day. Something that Descartes would consider a case of thinking but I would not is how much thought he puts into certain things that aren’t really necessarily important to me. For instance, he states, “But as I reach this conclusion, I am amazed at how (weak and ) prone to error my mind is. For although I am thinking about these matters within myself, silently and without speaking, nonetheless the actual words bring me, and I am almost tricked by ordinary ways of talking” (177.)

When it comes to certain things, I really don’t overthink them, I just do them without thought, whereas compared to Descartes, it really seems that he overthinks most of the things before doing them, since most of the things he writes are things that people nowadays really don’t think about too much. I think that pain isn’t really a way of thinking. Pain is something that happens in the moment, and it is something that really doesn’t need to be thought about. Although, in certain circumstances, if it was hiding the pain, then the person would think of ways to overcome pain in that moment. I completely agree with the idea of music being a way of thinking. Dreaming is also something that I consider to be “thinking.” I believe that dreams basically come from a cluster of thoughts deep within our brain, and those images become vivid once we go to sleep.

When I listen to music, especially instrumental, depending on its mood, it really does get me thinking. When I’m writing my stories, depending on the mood I want to implement on that specific moment, I put on a certain instrumental song that matches that mood, and it gives me inspiration and ideas to write more. It is something that really helps me with my writer’s block. If I am to compare some of these to Descartes’, I would say that both my opinions on music and dreams would have to relate to his. As I stated previously, Descartes is a man who overthinks things, and seems like the man to create vivid images within his mind when he thinks of certain things. Me listening to instrumental music is something that creates vivid images in my mind; giving me ideas that I want to implement into a story. The vivid images and inspiration that I receive from the music; I implement into my story.

Dreaming is another thing, because it is something that involves overthinking. I believe that the result of vivid dreams comes from things that we overthink of. Those dreams, good or bad, become a reality while we sleep. The explicit aim of Descartes’ discussion of the piece of wax within the Second Meditation is to basically show us what we are capable of.

He says, “Is it what I picture in my imagination: that this piece of wax is capable of changing from a round shape to a square shape, or from a square shape to a triangular shape? Not at all; for I can grasp that the wax is capable of countless changes of this kind, yet I am unable to run through this immeasurable number of changes in my imagination, from which it follows that it is not the faculty of imagination gives me my grasp of the wax as flexible and changeable” (177.) This is stating that we are capable of such a great deal of changes, that the amount can’t even be counted. We can change the way we look, the way we act, and the way we see things. The reasons are endless. That’s why Descartes stated that he is ‘unable to run though this immeasurable number of changes,’ the main reason being that we are simply capable of all of these possible endless changes. The thing that he is most concerned with himself is the fact that his mind is prone to error.

In the text, he states, “ But as I reach this conclusion, I am amazed at how (weak and) prone to error my mind is. For although I am thinking about these matters within myself, silently and without speaking, nonetheless the actual words bring me up short, and I am almost tricked by ordinary ways of talking” ( 177.) Since Descartes was a man that used his mind more than anything, this was something that concerned him because it could have slightly affected the way he dealt with things. Most likely, he could have feared making a wrong choice, or making a mistake that he normally wouldn’t have made, things like that. There are things that I really appreciate with Descartes’ view, and it’s the way he uses his imagination a lot.

The way he pictures things are vivid and picture perfect. I find those to be very useful when it comes to writing. In that aspect, I do think the same way as him if I ever want to get my message out to my readers. The way my mind works isn’t as picture perfect as his, but it is something that I want to get to to create much more stories with vivid context. However, what I don’t really like about this is the way he delves deep into who he states himself to be. For instance, he says, “ What then did I formerly think I was? A man. But what is a man? Shall I say ‘a rational animal?’ No; for then I would have to inquire what an animal is, what rationality is, and in this way one question would lead me down the slope to other harder ones, and I do now not have the time to waste on subtleties of this kind” (174.) As I read throughout the text, I found his way of thinking here completely confusing. He delved way too deep into the way he defined man, and that was something that I opposed when it came to his views. I do think that the questions raised by Descartes are relevant in the 21st century due to religious conflicts and government corruption.

The reason for both of these? Well, things like the KKK and ISIS are things that bring forth a great deal of misunderstandings. This brings us back when Descartes previously talked about “the wax,” which was something that I had mentioned previously when I had said that we were the ones that had represented the wax. We make mistakes, go through misunderstandings, and we are capable of making a great deal of changes. Well, things like religious conflict bring forth misunderstanding, as there are people that believe that all Christians make up the KKK, or all Muslims make up ISIS. People misunderstand this, since it is not the religion itself that these groups are motivated by, it is an excuses.

As for government corruption, again, these people desire nothing but power, and they will continue to do whatever means necessary get more money, even if it means bringing people to the streets. Descartes made a great impact within the world of Philosophy because of his deep thinking, vivid imagination, and his opinions on the world around him. Many people were inspired by this, and decided to continue on with his knowledge.After his death in February 11, 1650, his views continue to be embraced by philosophers today.


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Rene Descartes Impact on World of Philosophy. (2021, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/rene-descartes-impact-on-world-of-philosophy/

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