Descartes Assignment

Due: Monday, April 10th, 2007

Requirements : 3 pages, typed, 12pt font, handed in as a hard copy

Recommended : Quotations

Total Points for assignment – 40


Directions – Choose 1 of the following options:


Option 1: Skepticism → Cogito Ergo Sum → God exists

  1. Give a summary of Descartes’ first meditation in The Meditations (Pages 6-8):

1a. What is the purpose of Meditation #1?

1b. What role does doubt and skepticism play?

  1. On Page 10 of The Meditations , Descartes claims: “I am a thing which thinks”

2a. How does Descartes come to this conclusion?

2b. What beliefs does he pass up before arriving at this conclusion?

  1. Page 13 of Principles of Philosophy : Sections “XVIII”, “XIV”, and “XX”

3a. Descartes says we have thoughts about God in The Meditations

3b. From Sections “XVIII”, “XIV”, and “XX” what is the argument Descartes gives for the existence of God?


Option 2: Substance and Existence

  1. On Pages 11-12 of Descartes’ second meditation in The Meditations . Descartes

describes a piece of wax and how it stays the same over time

1a. What does Descartes say “remains” of the wax after its other properties are

striped away? Hint: He says what remains is a certain type of thing which is flexible and movable.

1b. What does the wax example tell us about substance and perception?

  1. Page 20 of Principles of Philosophy , Section “LI” and “LII”

2a. What does Descartes say concerning God and substance?

2b. Explain and discuss the word “Univocally”

2c. Give the meaning and how it applies to the discussion of substance

  1. What do the conclusions drawn from B tell us about the findings in A?


Extra Credit (15 additional points):

  1. Apply another section from Principles of Philosophy to your answer for whichever

option you have chosen. Include it at the end and mark it as “Extra Credit”.

2. Length: Around 1 page.