I've been revising for my upcoming Philosophy exam again. Just been looking into the wonders of Descartes, and his 'Cogito Ergo Sum'. I thought I'd share this with you, because it is fairly interesting!
For those who don't know of it, Descartes basically visualised a table with everything on it, and took everything off that he could not be certain existed.
If you present the brain in a vat argument (that we may just be having our entire existence fed into a brain in a laboratory with the input controlled by a computer), which is now more likely known as the 'Matrix Argument', there is no way that we can know for certain what actually exists and what does not.
Descartes got a massive headache, and eventually realised that the only thing that he was sure about was that he existed, because he must exist to ask the question of whether he exists before.
There is obviously considerable debate on whether we know all of this for certain, because it depends on whether you think that you have innate knowledge or not. If all of our experience comes from experience, and the only way we can experience the world is through our senses, then our entire perception of the world is fallible and could be false. If you approach from a rationalist viewpoint, then you can use reason to experience the world. However, how do you learn advanced reasoning except through experience?
Descartes was an avid Christian, and unfortunately decided to try and use the fact that we could not be sure that anything existed as an argument for the existence of God. He basically summarised his argument like this:
1. I have an idea of supremely perfect being, i.e. a being having all perfections.
2. Necessary existence is a perfection.
3. Therefore, a supremely perfect being exists.
He used the fact that there is nothing we know for certain, and used the fact that some ideas are innate to formulate this. Of course it is a load of bullshit. We can show that we got the idea of a supremely perfect being through experience, which is fallible. And if the idea is fallible, according to Descartes's own logic, it actually fails through his own argument!
Anyway, this is some revision of my Reason and Experience module, I just thought it was fairly interesting, and wanted to share with you guys. Would like to see what our resident (like 3) Christians make of this refutation of the Ontological argument.