HUMA 1160 The Enlightenment and Human Understanding

Humanities
The Enlightenment and Human Understanding
1. As an Enlightenment thinker, Descartes rejects the learning of the
past, and holds that a new approach is required in order to put
learning on a certain and indubitable foundation. To accomplish this,
he insists that learning generally must emulate the method of
mathematics.
a) Utilizing Descartes’ Regulae and the Principles of Philosophy, discuss
as fully as you can Descartes’ views on the role Mathematics plays in
revolutionizing learning.
b) Discuss the key points of difference that Descartes identifies between
knowledge of the first principles of mathematics and the quest for the
knowledge of first principles in metaphysics -the subject matter of his
Meditations. (See especially pages 101-104 in the Descartes’ Meditations
volume).
c) While Descartes, in the Regulae, insists that mathematics is certain
and indubitable (see especially, Rules 1 – 4) , in the Meditations (1 and
3) and the Principles of Philosophy (Principle V) he offers 3 reasons as
to why mathematics is dubitable. Discuss fully Descartes reasons in
Meditations 1 and 3 and Principle V for maintaining the dubitability of
mathematics.
2. Provide an overview of Descartes’ first meditation, which details: i) the
theory of Representative Realism utilized in this meditation; ii) the nature
and role of the various Principles of Evidence; iii) the use of hyperbolic
doubt; and iv) the role of the Evil Genius Hypothesis.


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