Monday, April 4, 2011

Philosophy on Epistemology - Descartes' Cogito
Completed approximately October, 2010.

Descartes appears to arrive at his ideological system using a logic set apparently named the "Cartesian Circle". I understand circular logic to refer to a defining premise that refers to itself. I understand the Cartesian Circle to be referred to as circular, for example, because its logic appears considered to propose use of perception to analyze perception.

It is perhaps my analytic inexperience on the topic or perhaps a valuable novel perspective that I perceive that suggests that the Cartesian Circle might also be respectfully referred to as the "Cartesian Contradiction" due to (1) an apparent premise declaration that perception is fallible and cannot be relied upon for infallible detection and (2) an apparent subsequent declaration that perception can be relied upon for infallible detection.

Another possible perspective appears to be that Descartes has solely revised his "perception is absolutely fallible" premise to "perception is typically fallible". I am unaware of whether Descartes intentionally and officially accepts, acknowledges and declares the premise revision or if some studiers simply choose to believe that Descartes' implied the revision based on his introduction of the apparently contradictory premise.

Perhaps, as well, the contradiction appears clear due to the apparently highly summarized abstraction I have suggested. It appears possible that the contradiction that I suggest might have gone undetected during analysis of the voluminous less-summarized concepts set forth, as set forth, in the Descartes writings. In addition to the apparent sheer volume of Descartes' concepts, I understand that they apparently were and are considered generally quite novel. Perhaps the concepts, even individually, might have been considered quite stressful to perceive, much less to analyze as parts of a possibly complex, interactive whole.

It appears, in my fallible opinion, that Descartes attempts to resolve the "Cartesian Contradiction" I have suggested above by using ideological and verbal slight-of-hand, exchanging "external justification" for "internal justification".

Among my fallible understandings, I recall "external justification" to refer to proofs not dependent on perception and "internal justification" to refer to proofs that are dependent on perception. I understand Descartes to suggest the possibility of reality independent of perception: that which exists, regardless of whether accurately represented by perception. I understand Descartes, at least initially, to be included among those who define "knowledge" as accurate, infallible understanding and who define "perception" as the understanding that is subject to inaccuracy. I understand Descartes's initial goal to be to piece together as much "knowledge" or accurate understanding of perception-independent reality as he can.

My fallible understandings include the following. It appears that Descartes' might have perceived that the goal of his effort (that I understand to be an infallible knowledge set) was rendered unreachable because all his calculative work would be done using perception as his sole tool, a tool he defined to be fallible. Perhaps Descartes perceived that the results of his efforts to obtain infallible truth, truth independent of perception, would be essentially worthless due to the fallible results that he understood would be obtained via perception.

It appears that, at this point, Descartes might have wisely abandoned his initial goal of perception-independent knowledge and settled for perception. The faux-pas appears to be, in my opinion, however, that Descartes appears not only to redefine the term "knowledge" to mean "perception" and the word "proof" to mean "clear and distinct conviction", but he appears to continue building his ideological system upon these self-admittedly undependable premises, apparently ignoring the hazards of doing so that he had, himself, previously identified.

It appears, from my brief review of the Descartes material, that Descartes apparent redefinition efforts also redefined his goal to be to obtain (a) a certain, apparently high level of confidence (conviction) regarding perspective and (b) the perspective-independent guidance that I understand Descartes to believe would result from said level of confidence.

It appears that, in his theory of fallible perception, one might find reason not to blame him for making what appears to be such an obvious, and, per my understanding of his theory, tragic mistake: perhaps his perception was flawed... enough not to detect the mistake. But that would only apply if he was wrong.

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