Rene Descartes and Rationalism (Rationality)June 29, 2021
Descartes is considered the founder of modern philosophy and analytical geometry.
He is an important philosopher who tried to save philosophy from the pressure of all kinds of religious and political authorities. He has produced important works in the field of philosophy. His most important works are; “Discourse on Method”, “Principles of Philosophy” and “Metaphysical Reflections”.
According to Descartes, knowledge comes in three ways: from the sense organs, from imagination (imagination) power (artificial knowledge), and innate. God, spirit, space and all mathematical thoughts are innate. Congenital thoughts are like hereditary diseases. How such diseases do not occur in every newborn baby; but if we can say that these babies are likely to have this disease, innate thoughts are not thoughts that are ready when we are born. Humans have abilities such as common sense that reveal these thoughts.
According to Descartes, the information obtained by our minds through sensations and experience and the information obtained by imagination include possibilities, they are not always clear and distinct. Because this kind of information has no real object equivalent. The information obtained with these two types of information are fictions created by the imagination and fantasies of the mind. According to him, only innate information is information whose accuracy is clear and distinct. Such information is general in nature, correct and mandatory information. Descartes appears as an information theorist who adopted dogmatic rationalism by accepting innate information as the most valuable information.
According to Descartes, our senses and understanding can mislead us. The possibility of being wrong leads one to doubt everything. People can reach a point where they cannot doubt by doubting. He said, “I cannot doubt that I am doubting.” and “To doubt is to think.” are ideas. Thus, Descartes famously said, “I think therefore I am.” reached its proposition. The fact that I am thinking makes me sure that I exist, that is, that there is a thinking “me”; because if I didn’t exist I wouldn’t be able to think.
With this proof, Descartes shows that there is a proposition of which he is clearly sure of the truth. With this, he refutes the basic idea of skepticism that nothing can be known. So knowing is possible. Descartes is a rationalist philosopher because he reached the clear and correct information on these explanations with the mind.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook