Meditation II

“For it may be that what I see is not really wax, it may also be that I do not possess eyes with which to see anything; but it cannot be that when I see, or (for I no longer take account of the distinction) when I think I see, that I myself who think am nought. “ (Page 11, Paragraph 2)

Descartes and his obsession with his existential crisis is going to drive me up the wall. What good is it to come to a conclusion like the cogito just to continue questioning the validity of both body and mind? Our French philosopher now compares the human body to a wax candle, though not as directly as that sentence may suggest. He can determine that a wax candle is a wax candle through his five senses, even after it has been melted and distorted. He knows this new mess of an object is indeed a wax candle, not because he watched as the candle melted down but because his mind has come to a conclusion based on his senses. But alas, those senses are as imaginary as the outside world and only serve to verify the true existence of his mind and its ability to conjure as it pleases.

In that same respect, the wax example defends the idea that so long as you can think, you can exist. Your mind perceives information taken in by the senses, even if the senses are merely perceptions projected by your mind. The inability to doubt the existence of the mind is Descartes driving force for this portion of his meditation, and its ability to make sense of our world whether or not it truly exists. Our imagination is endless, creating perceptions of things we think to exist regardless of their falsity under the scrutiny of our doubts. How are we to know that a man is truly a man when all we can catch sight of is his long coat and hat – that man could very well be a machine as Descartes put it, and yet our minds do not hesitate to perceive that coat and hat as such. If the world outside of our mind is in fact a projection of our own imagination, would that not make us the devil seeking to cause us the same doubts as Descartes?

Word Count: 387


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