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The Philosophy of René Descartes
At the end of the sixteenth century, philosophy was losing credence within the world. Philosophy was not, however, forgotten. René Descartes (1596-1650) is the man who is said to have revived philosophy and who became renowned within the philosophy circle as the father of what is known as modern philosophy. His most famous work is Meditations on First Philosophy. Within Meditations, he switches between epistemology and metaphysics, as he becomes familiar with himself, God, and the world around him. Within this work, he meditates on the dichotomy problems—what exists and what does not. As said by Paul Strathern in his work Descartes in 90 Minutes, “Descartes insisted on the rational approach: the problems of philosophy could be solved by analyzing them with the use of reason alone” (57). Thus he uses reason during these meditations in order to realize many unknown conflicts including: certain things can be called into doubt, he is a thinking thing, there truly is a God, and that all things around him truly exist.
In meditation one, entitled “Concerning Those Things That Can Be Called into Doubt,” Descartes first makes an assumption that nothing is real, including himself. He argues, “[He] knows things that are not true” (490). This is the beginning of how he decides whether things exist or not. In the words of David Cunning as cited from his online work within the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entitled Descartes’s Modal Metaphysics, “...