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Understanding Descartes: I am, I exist


Hercules Bantas

A Reluctant Geek Academic Guide

Epub version published by Smashwords

All other versions published by The Reluctant Geek through Smashwords

Melbourne, Australia

Copyright Hercules Bantas 2011

In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes uses rational thought to argue that his essence exists in his mind alone. He reasons that the mind and body are distinct and separable, and that the mind, as the originator of thought, is what defines the person. This guide will outline the reasoning Descartes' uses in establishing his epistemology (theory of knowledge), which he argues is necessary to form a 'proper foundation' for the sciences and move it away from the medieval systems that were the prevailing orthodoxies of the time.


René Descartes was born in France in 1596 and was a substantial contributor to the 'scientific revolution' that changed the course of European thought in the seventeenth century (Cottingham, 1986, p. 1). He was active many areas of knowledge, including mathematics where he developed a system of co-ordinates, and philosophy with his epistemology. His contributions to knowledge are often preceded by the word Cartesian, which is derived from his name. Thus, the system of co-ordinates he devised are known as Cartesian co-ordinates, and Cartesian Dualism refers to his argument of the dual nature of mind and body.

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