First moment: Some years ago I was struct by hopw many false things I had believed , and by how doubtful was the structure of beliefs that I had based

On the first and second moment read and understand the text well.


First moment:

  1. Some years ago I was struct by hopw many false things I had believed , and by how doubtful was the structure of beliefs that I had based on them. I realized that if I wanted to establish anything in the sciences that was stable and likely to last, I - just once in my life - to demolish everything completely and start again from foundations. It looked like an enormous task, and i decided to wait until I was old enoough to be sure that there was nothing to be gained from putting it off any longer. I have now delayed if for so long that I have no excuse for going on planning to do it rather than getting to work. So today I have set all my worries aside and arranged for my self a clear stretch of free time. I am here quite alone, and at last I will devote my self, sincerely and without holding back, to demolishing my opinions.
  2. I can do this without showing that all my beliefs are false, which is probably more than I could ever manage. My reason tells me that as well as withholding assent from propositions that obviously false, I should also withhild it from ones that are not completely certain and induibitable. So all I need , for the purpose of rejecting all my opinions, is to fine in each of them at least some reasons for doubt. I can do this without going through  them  by one, which would take forever: once the foundations of building have been undermined, the rest collapses of its own accord; so I will go straight for basic principles on which all former beliefs rested.
  3. Whatever I have accepted untill now as most true has come to me through my senses. But occasionally I have found that they have deceived us even once.
  4. Yet although the senses sometimes deceive us about objects that are very small or distant, that doesn't apply to my belief that I am here, sitting by the fire, wearing a winter dressing-gown, holding this piece of paper in my hands, and so on. I tt seems to be quite impossible to doubt beliefs like these, which come from the senses

SECOND MOMENT: The mad man analogy

  1. Another example: how can I doubt that these hands or this whole body are mine? To doubt such things i would have to liken my self to Brain-damage madmen who are convinced they are kings when really they are paupers, or say they are dressed in purple when they are naked, or that they are pumpkins, or made of glass. Such people are insane, and I would be thought equally mad if I modeled my self on them.

Analysis of the first meditation

In the first meditation above, descartes gives the reasons for doubting everything. The meditation begins with the awareness of the fact that most of the beliefs he long cherished were false, and so he becomes sceptical. To overcome this skepticism, he decides to put everything into doubting. Doubting becomes the method and the solution to overcome to overcme skepticism. It will be laborious to examine one belief after another in an inductive way. Such inductive examination is weak because it will be an endless task and that is why he decides to "go straight fo the basic principles on which all my former beliefs rested". The meditator in this first instance deconstructs the whole system of philosophy and knowledge to reconstruct a new one on certain beliefs and principles. He follows a complex train of thought in an internal subjective dialogue, a dialogue of mine with it self. The mind alone raises arguments against the basic principles on which his former beliefs were based. This method in mathematics is called succession by elimination. The miditator plays a double role. The role of skeptic who raises doubts and the role of naive sketic who addresses the doubts. The reasons for this doubting are examined in the following logical moments.


  1. The first foundation on which beliefs are widely ( by the empiricists) is the view that our senses can b trusted.
  2. The senses here serve as the foundation for the justification of beliefs. Descartes criticizes the senses for their deceptive nature.
  3. The senses to him deceive us about objects " which are very small or in distance" 
  4. This applies same to very small objects because when perceived at first sight, a close examination always shows that they are not really as they appear to our senses.
  5. Given the fact that, we cannot completely trust those who has deceived us once, the same thing applies to the senses. That is the senses should not be trusted.
  6. This follows that empiricism, is not a terrible theory of knowledge because of deception of the senses.
SECOND MOMENT: The mad man analogy

  1. One of the reasons for doubting is argument of madness.
  2. Insanity is characterized by defect of perception. That is; a mad man is a victim of interference of sensory perception.
  3. Even though Descartes is also a victim of defect of perception, he is not mad because he is a victim of judgement.
  4. A mad man suffers both from the defects of perception and judgement but a normal man or the medicator, may suffer from the deflect of perception but he is not a victim of judgement.
  5. This follows that, the Cartesian doubt is not a form of madness.
Therefore, Descartes or the medicator is not a mad man.

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