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His leading work in physics, mathematics, optics, physiology, geometry and astronomy would have been quite enough to mark out Descartes as one of the founders of the Western way of thinking. These Meditations begin by attempting to doubt everything, and to build up from that to those few things which we can know with certainty. But isn't this no more than saying that "I know what I know", and justifying this by saying "one of the things I know is a benevolent God" in a pointlessly circular process of introspection? Descartes was extraordinarily honest, at least by the standards of his time, in circulating the manuscript of The Meditations for comment and publishing a set of "Objections and Replies" alongside the text.
The Cartesian Circle: Descartes concept that we know that which is clear and distinct because it is assured in us by God, and that we know God because He is a clear and distinct idea. The famous phrase 'cogito ergo sum' (I think, therefore I am) does not occur in exactly that form in the original of the Meditations, but in the earlier Discourse on Method. IV: A perfect God would not cause the imperfection of deceit, so He is not deceiving me about the things of which I have clear and certain knowledge. V: I am certain that I know material objects, inasmuch as I can define them by mathematics. To the Most Wise and Illustrious the Dean and Doctors of the Sacred Faculty of Theology in Paris. We have faith that the human soul does not perish with the body, and that God exists, but it certainly does not seem possible to persuade infidels of any religion, or of any moral virtue, unless, to begin with, we prove these two facts by natural reason. For the truth will easily cause all men of mind and learning to subscribe to your judgment; and your authority will cause the atheists, who are usually more arrogant than learned or judicious, to rid themselves of their contradictions.
I have already touched, in passing, on the two questions of God and the human soul in the Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, published in French in the year 1637. I now intend to discuss these matters in greater depth, without expecting any praise from the vulgar or hoping that my book will have many readers. I venture to promise that it will be difficult for anyone to bring to mind criticisms of any consequence which have not been already touched upon. In the following meditations I will show that doubt is possible, and from that show that to doubt is proof of the existence of mind. So many of the opinions I held so firmly in my youth were false, that I must admit how doubtful is everything I have since constructed. For the same reason, although general things may be imaginary, we are bound to confess that there are simpler objects which are real and true; such as colours, quantity or magnitude and number. I confess that there is nothing in all that I formerly believed, which I cannot doubt in some measure. So, I intend to attach myself to the idea that some evil genie is deceiving me; that the heavens, the earth, colours, figures, sound, even my body and senses are nought but illusions and dreams. It is not even necessary that God puts ideas into my mind, for it is possible that I am producing them myself. I have determined to imagine that that evil genie is deceiving me even about my knowledge of my own self. Putting aside all which is not necessarily true: then I can accurately state that I am no more than a thing which thinks, that is to say a mind or a soul, or an understanding, or a reason. Let us consider one simple corporeal thing - this piece of wax: freshly taken from the hive, with the sweetness of its honey and the aroma of flowers.
I can imagine that this wax might be made into a square or a triangle and still be the same wax.
It is now manifest to me that bodies are not properly known by the senses or by the imagination, but by the understanding only.
But it is difficult to rid oneself of a long-held view, so it will be well that I should rest at this point, to meditate on this new knowledge.
I shall now close my eyes and my ears, and put away all thought of physical things, to try to better understand my own self. If I hear sound, or see the sun, or feel heat, I judge that these sensations come from things outside of me. Those ideas which represent substances all seem more solid than those that represent modes or accidents; and that idea of a supreme God, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, seems to have even more objective reality. Now it is manifest that effects derive their reality from their causes, that something cannot proceed from nothing and that the perfect cannot proceed from something imperfect. But further, the idea of heat, or stone, cannot exist in me unless it has been placed there by some cause at least as real as that which I conceive exists in the heat or stone.
There remains only the idea of God, whose attributes of infinity, independence, all-knowledge and all-power seem so exceptional that no idea of them could have come from within me; hence we must conclude that God exists. The idea of substance could be from within me, as I am a substance, but, since I am finite, the idea of an infinite substance must proceed from elsewhere. We must say that the idea of God is very clear and distinct and more objectively real than others. Possibly all those perfections of God are in some way potentially in me, for I am sensible that my knowledge increases little by little, and I see nothing which can prevent it from increasing to the perfection of the Divine. It is perfectly clear and evident to all who consider the nature of time, that, in order to have existence at a particular moment, a substance must have the power to create itself anew in the next moment. This cannot be, because, as I have said, there must be at least as much reality in the cause as in the effect; and since I am a thinking thing, it must be that the cause is likewise a thinking thing.
Finally, it is not my parents who conserve me, they are only the authors of that body in which the self, ie.
But before I go on, it seems right to pause to think on His majesty; at least as far as my dazzled mind will allow. Over these past days I have found little certainty respecting corporeal objects, some respecting the mind, and more regarding God.
I recognise it as impossible that God should ever deceive me; for fraud and deception testify to imperfection, malice or feebleness, which cannot be of God. In the first place, knowing that I am feeble and limited, while God is infinite, I recognise that some of his ends, which seem imperfect, would be found to be perfect if we could but comprehend the whole. Considering my own errors, I find that they depend on my knowledge, and on my power of choice or free will. I have no cause to complain that God has not given me more powerful intelligence, since it is proper that a finite understanding should not comprehend all things. Finally, I must not complain that God concurs with me in errors of my will, because, in a certain sense, more perfection accrues to me from the fact that I can will them, than if I could not. I have seen triangles; yet, I can form in my mind other shapes which have never been seen, but still clearly know their properties. When I think of it this with care, I clearly see that existence can no more be separated from the essence of God than having three angles can be separated from the essence of triangle.
But this is mere sophism; for whether the mountain and the valley exist or not, they cannot be separated from one another. It is not necessary that I should ever think of God, nevertheless, whenever I do, it is necessary that I attribute to Him every perfection, although I cannot enumerate them all.
For the rest, we must always return to the point that only those things that we conceive clearly and distinctly are true. If only my mind were not pre-occupied with prejudices, there would be nothing I could know more immediately and more easily than God. This is the more clear when we see the difference between imagination and pure intellection.
But if I think of a chiliagon, a thousand-sided figure, I cannot in any way imagine or visualise it, as the imagination is a different power from understanding. First I shall consider those matters perceived through the senses which I hitherto held to be true. I perceived that I had all the members of this body - which I considered part, or possibly the whole, of myself.
But when I inquired, why painful sensation leads to sadness, and pleasurable sensation to joy, or a mysterious pinching of the stomach called hunger leads to desire to eat, and so on, I could only reason that nature taught me so.
Now that I begin to know myself better, I do not so rashly accept all which the senses seem to teach, but nor do I think I should doubt them all.
I know that God may may have placed in me the things which I comprehend, but I can only explain my ability to make distinctions between one thing and another by concluding that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing. I further find that faculties of imagination and feeling cannot be conceived apart from me, that is without an intelligent substance in which they reside. Approaching fire I feel heat, and approaching too near I feel pain, but there is no reason to accept that there is something resembling my notion of heat in fire, or than it contains something resembling pain. This pursuit or avoidance things, taught me by nature, sometimes leads to error; as when the agreeable taste of some poisoned food may induce me to partake of the poison.
But we frequently deceive ourselves even in those things to which we are directly impelled by nature, as happens with those who when they are sick desire things hurtful to them.
There is a great difference between mind and body, as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is indivisible. I further notice that the mind does not receive impressions from the body directly, but only from the brain, or perhaps even from the small part of the brain where common sense resides. Notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, composed of mind and body, can sometimes be a source of deception.
This consideration helps me to recognise the errors to which my nature is subject, so as to avoid them, or correct them more easily. But because the exigencies of action often oblige us to make up our minds before having leisure to examine matters carefully, we must confess that the life of man is frequently subject to error. The squashed version of Thomas Hobbes objections to the Meditations, and Descartes replies. 1st OBJECTION: Even from Plato we have the notion of wondering whether anything exists or not. 2nd REPLY: When I used the terms like 'mind', 'soul', 'understanding' and 'reason', I meant things endowed with the capacity of thinking.
3rd OBJECTION: While not separate from me, my thinking is different from me, in the same sense as dancing is distinct from the dancer.
4th OBJECTION: It is old Aristotle's reasoning that there is some difference between imagining and conceiving, as with the wax. 4th REPLY: I did explain the difference between an image, and a concept belonging to the mind - as with what we know of the wax through images, and what we conceive with the mind. 6th OBJECTION: Even if fear, for instance, is a thought, I fail to see how it can be anything other than the thought of the thing you are afraid of.
8th OBJECTION: There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.
8th REPLY: What he says is not an idea of the sun is precisely what I myself call an 'idea'. 10th OBJECTION: Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves.
Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.
One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? 11th REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. 12th OBJECTION: Descartes is wrong to think that ability to make mistakes requires some special faculty, it needs nothing more than the possession of reasoning ability- this is why stones cannot make mistakes.
12th REPLY: Making of mistakes is lack of ability, but it does not follow that the lack has any positive being.
I am amazed that I have not yet come across a single valid argument among all these objections.
13th OBJECTION: The expression 'a great illumination in my understanding' is metaphorical, and is inappropriate for logical reasoning. 13th REPLY: It is irrelevant whether the expression 'a great illumination' is appropriate for logical reasoning or not, provided it is appropriate for explaining what is meant - as indeed it is.


14th OBJECTION: If the triangle exists nowhere in the world, I fail to understand how it can have any sort of nature. 15th REPLY: My conclusion does not require that there are no circumstances under which we can make mistakes (I have already admitted that we often make mistakes). LAST OBJECTION: If the dreamer dreams whether he is dreaming or not, he cannot dream that his dream coheres with ideas of past events succeeding each other in a long chain.
LAST REPLY: A dreamer cannot really connect the contents of their dream with the ideas of past events, although they can dream that they are making the connection. In our fourth reading on the topic of the human self, John Locke undertakes an empiricist's investigation of the self, revealing features similar to but also different from those found by the rationalist, Descartes. This monograph on Descartes' "Meditations" shows that it is as much about pedagogy as it is about truth.
Bli forst att betygsatta och recensera boken Argument and Persuasion in Descartes' Meditations. Alan Nelson, Mind One might have thought it mearly impossible at this late date to write a new book containing a well argued, fresh perspective on fundamental features of Descarte's philosophy.
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But this petit bourgeois former soldier from La Haye in central France determined to round-off his career in the sciences by presenting to the world his thoughts on how it is, and why, we construct truth.
The result is an idea of the human as essentially spiritual, but temporarily connected to a material body, which knows that its perceptions are valid because God is no deceiver. Possibly so, but the Meditations may still be seen as a foundation of modern philosophy inasmuch as it, as with all the best philosophy, properly asks the right questions for its time, questions which we are only now discovering how to answer.
These are actually larger than the original book and are rarely reproduced today, but I've included a precis of the dialog with Thomas Hobbes to give a feel of the whole. This knowledge doesn't make things exist, but my knowledge of God makes me certain that they are something. And, finally, all others will easily yield to such a mass of evidence, and there will be none who dares to doubt the existence of God and the real and true distinction between the human soul and the body. These questions have appeared to me to be of such importance that I did not judge it to be expedient to set it forth at length in French, in case it be read by feebler minds and they come to believe that it was permitted to them to attempt to follow the same path.
I should never advise anyone to read what I have to say excepting those who desire to meditate seriously with me, and who can detach their minds from affairs of sense, and deliver themselves entirely from every sort of prejudice. In order to know that the soul is immortal we must first have a clear picture of the soul- we know that mind is indivisible and that you can't have half a soul, and that the body may change, but mind is always mind.
Thus, I have become convinced that, if I ever want to establish firm structure for the sciences, I must build anew from the foundation. Like the fact that I am seated by this fire, in a dressing gown, with this paper in my hands. That is why Physics, Astronomy, Medicine and those sciences which consider composite things, are dubious; but Arithmetic, Geometry and sciences which treat of things very simple and general contain some certainty.
I can imagine that other people deceive themselves, but how do I know that I am not deceived when I add two and three, or count the sides of a square? Whether I have come about by fate or accident or by a continual succession of antecedents - since to deceive oneself is a defect, it is clear that the author of my skills must be a greater deceiver still. We must be careful to keep this in mind, and fear not that there is peril or error in yielding to distrust, since I am not considering questions of action, but only of knowledge.
This task is a difficult one, for just as a prisoner who dreams of liberty, when he begins to suspect that it is but a dream, fears to awaken, so I may fall back into my former opinions. Nonetheless, I will continue the journey in hope of finding, like Archimedes moving the earth, some fixed point of certainty.
Things are not known from the fact that they are seen or touched, but because they are understood. So far, my only assurance is to accept those things which I perceive very clearly and very distinctly as true, yet I know that I have often been mistaken. Just now, for instance, whether I will it or not, I feel heat, and it seems obvious that this feeling is produced by something different from me, ie. For example, the idea of stone can only be produced by something which possesses, either formally or eminently, all that constitutes stone.
Thus the light of nature causes me to know clearly that my ideas may fall short of the perfection of the objects from which they derive, but they can never be greater or more perfect.
I could not have gained the idea of infinite substance just by negating the finite, as I perceive darkness as negation of light; for there is manifestly more reality in infinite substance than in finite. Even if we can imagine that God does not exist, we cannot imagine that the idea of him means nothing.
At the same time, I recognise that this cannot be, since it can never reach a point so high that it could not attain to yet greater increase. But I am conscious of no such power in myself, and by this, I know clearly that I depend on some being different from myself. Not through the senses, nor as a fiction of my mind, for I cannot take from or add anything to it. For faith teaches us that the glory of this, and the other, life is contemplation of the Divine.
I shall now go on to consider things purely intelligible which have no contact with matter. Though I recognise that my knowledge, memory and imagination are imperfect, in my free will I find power so great that I cannot conceive of any greater, and so see there the image of God.
They come from the fact that my will is much wider in range than my understanding, and extending it to things which I do not understand I fall into error and sin. Nor have I reason to complain that He has given me a will larger than my understanding, since free-will is such that if it were less than complete, it would not exist at all. This is no imperfection of God; but it is without doubt an imperfection in me not to make a good use of my freedom. I see that as long as I make judgements only on matters which I clearly and distinctly understand, I can never be deceived and will, without doubt, arrive at truth. But I must try to emerge from the state of doubt I have held to these last few days, and to see which of my ideas of the corporeal world are clear and which confused. Hence they are something, for it is clear that what is true is something, and I have shown that what I know clearly is true. Still, from the fact that I, say, know that a mountain must have a valley, it does not follow that there is a mountain.
But from the fact that I cannot conceive God without existence, it follows that existence is inseparable from Him, and hence that He exists. And this applies just as much to those matters that are understood only from careful examination as to those which are manifestly obvious. Once I recognise this, and see that He is not a deceiver, I can infer that what I perceive clearly and distinctly must be true. I clearly and distinctly know of objects, inasmuch as they are represented by pure mathematics, and I know that my imagination is capable of persuading me of physical existence, perhaps by the application of knowledge to the body, which is immediately present to it and which therefore, exists. For example, when I imagine a triangle, I conceive it, not only as a figure of three lines, but also by an inward vision, which I call imagining. Further, I sensed that this body was amidst others, from which it could be affected with pain or pleasure.
There is certainly no affinity (that I at least can understand) between the craving of the stomach and the desire to eat, any more than between pain and sadness. I have seen round towers from afar, which closely observed seemed square, and colossal statues, which appeared tiny when closely viewed. And although possibly I possess a body, because I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as only a thinking and unextended thing, and it is thereby that I possess an idea of body as an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this soul, by which I am what I am, is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.
I also observe in me faculties like change of position, which can only be conceived as being attached to corporeal substance. For example; I hold the opinion that all space in which there is nothing that affects my senses is void.
All that I have any reason to believe is that there is something in it that excites in me these sensations of heat or of pain. Though here nature may be excused, for it only induces me to desire pleasant food, not poison. It might be said that sickness corrupts nature, but a sick man is as much God's creature as he who is in health.
But because the nerves must pass through a long route, it may happen that some intervening part is excited, which may excite a mistaken movement in the brain. Knowing that my senses usually indicate to me truth respecting what is beneficial to the body, and being able almost always to avail myself of many of those senses in order to examine things, together with my memory to connect the present with the past, and my understanding of the causes errors, I ought no longer to fear the falsity of my everyday senses.
I reviewed these ideas as a medical writer gives a description of a disease he will explain how to cure. If Descartes has shown that understanding is identical with the person who understands, we shall be back with the jargon of university philosophers: understanding understands, seeing sees, or even walking, or at least the capacity to walk, will walk.
I could never satisfy people who prefer to give my words meanings different from the ones I give them. If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe. Analogously, stones do not have a sense of sight; but that alone is not enough for them to be described as blind.
In this passage I made no assumptions about the freedom of the will, beyond what we all experience in ourselves. Descartes should have considered whether the proposition that 'there are no circumstances in which God can deceive us' is true, if taken in a universal sense.
What it requires is that we are not mistaken in circumstances where our error would imply that God had deliberately decided to deceive us, since that would be inconsistent with his nature. Besides, according to Descartes, all certainty depends on a single item of knowledge, namely that there is an undeceiving God. Every single claim of the Meditations is advanced from the first-person point-of-view of Descartes' meditator, who is not a Cartesian at the start of inquiry.
Infinity and perfection are not within me, so the idea of an infinite and perfect God must have come from something outside me, so God must exist. It is for you now in your singular wisdom to judge of the importance of the establishment of such beliefs. To-day, since I have a leisurely retirement, I shall at last seriously address myself to this problem. And how could I deny that this body is mine, unless I was as mad as those whose cerebella are so clouded by black bile that they believe they have an earthenware head or a glass body? For whether I am awake or asleep, two and three always form five, and a square has four sides.
I have chosen to deny that I have senses and body, but the deceiver can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. To say 'man is a reasoning animal' means that I should have to inquire into the subtleties of what an animal is, and what reasonable. I seem to comprehend corporeal things in the world, and even to know them better than I know the contents of my mind, but could they still be false?
It remains possible that God might deceive me, though I cannot imagine how he might persuade me that I don't exist, or that two plus are not five. What I can conclude from all this is that I cannot myself be the cause of an idea, the cause must be outside me and greater than my idea. Indeed, how could I have the notion that I am finite and imperfect, unless I had some idea of a Being more perfect, by which to recognise my deficiencies?
But I do not easily see why the idea of perfection must have been placed in me, so I ask, do I derive my existence from myself, or my parents, or some other source than God?


Thus we must necessarily conclude from the simple fact that I exist, and that I have the idea of a perfect Being, that the proof of God's existence is grounded on the highest evidence. The only alternative is that God, in creating me, placed this idea within me, like the mark of the workman on his work. The more skilful the artisan, the more perfect his work, and God always wills what is best; is it then for the best that I should be subject to error? Thus, when I feel indecisive, this rather evinces a lack of knowledge than any imperfection of will: for if I always recognised clearly what was true and good, I should never have trouble deliberating. If I abstain from giving judgement on things that I do not perceive with clearness and distinctness, it is plain that I act rightly.
I nevertheless perceive that God could have created me so that I never should err, although I remained free yet limited in my knowledge, perhaps by giving me a perfect memory. For example, when I imagine a triangle, even if it be imaginary, it has a certain nature, or essence, immutable and eternal, which I have not imagined. Similarly, although I conceive of God as having existence, my thought does not impose any necessity upon things. I cannot think of God without existence, though it is in my power to imagine a horse either with or without wings. First, because I cannot conceive anything but God to whose essence existence necessarily pertains. For example, in the case of every right-angled triangle, although it is not so obvious that the square of the base is equal to the squares of the two other, still, when this has once been apprehended, we can be certain of its truth. And such knowledge will remain true, even if I forget the reasons which led me to the conclusion. I also experienced appetites like hunger, thirst, and also passions like joy, tittilation, sadness and anger. I found error in the external senses, and in the internal; for is there anything more internal than pain?
There is also in me a faculty of perceiving sensible things which is entirely passive, but this would be useless if there were not an active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, the thinking thing, should not feel pain, but would perceive the wound just as the sailor perceives something damaged in his vessel. Nature has provided me with this sense merely to signify to my mind what things are beneficial or hurtful.
Thus, I can infer that I am not omniscient, which should not be astonishing, since man is finite in nature. Just as a badly-made clock still follows the laws of nature, so the body of a man with no mind in it, would have the same motions as at present, excepting those movements due to the direction of the will. And although the whole mind seems united to the whole body, yet if a foot or an arm is separated from my body, nothing has been taken away from my mind.
More usually, when, say nerves in the feet are violently moved, their movement, passing through the medulla of the spine to the inmost parts of the brain, gives a sign to the mind which makes it feel pain, as though in the foot. So, I ought to set aside all the doubts of these past days as hyperbolical and ridiculous, particularly that very common uncertainty respecting dreams, for I now see that memory never connects dreams together as it unites waking events. If the Philosopher holds that things are signified by words, then he must accept that our reasonings are about things, rather than about the words alone.
But we have no knowledge of God, so it would be foolish idolatry to have an 'idea' of him in this sense. It is perfectly evident by the light of nature- on introspecting, no-one will fail to experience in themselves the essential identity of willing and being free.
If this proposition is not universally true, then the conclusion 'therefore corporeal things exist' does not follow. But it follows, either that atheists cannot infer that they are awake from their memories of their past lives, or that someone can know that they are awake, despite not recognising the existence of the undeceiving God. Because we couldn't have even the concept of so perfect a being unless God had put it into us, like the mark of the craftsman on his work.
Those many who form their criticisms on detached portions of my reasonings will not obtain much profit from this Treatise. To examine each opinion would take forever; so I shall begin by attacking those principles upon which all others rest.
So, we must definitely conclude that; I think, I exist, is necessarily true each time I mentally conceive it. But I know that I considered myself as having bones and flesh, that I was nourished, that I walked, that I felt, and that I thought, and I referred all these actions to the soul: but I did not stop to consider what the soul was, or if I did, I imagined that it was something extremely subtle like a wind or flame within my grosser parts.
I imagine that it, or any piece of wax, could be formed to any shape, even though my mind cannot encompass such an infinitude of forms.
To remove such doubt, I must enquire as to whether God exists, and whether he is a deceiver.
But I must doubt that it is nature which impels me to believe in material things, for, given a choice between virtue and vice, nature has often led me to the worse part. But I seem to know so little about corporeal objects, as we found with the wax yesterday, that such ideas may well proceed from myself. But if I myself were the author of my being, I should doubt nothing, desire nothing, lack no perfection and be unable to ever find myself discovering new things. The whole strength of the argument is in recognising that it is not possible that my nature should be what it is, and that I should have the idea of God, if God did not veritably exist. But if I determine to affirm what is not true, then I deceive myself, and misuse free will to create error.
Nevertheless, it seems that it is a greater perfection that parts of the universe should have error rather than all parts be the same.
Just as I can imagine a winged horse, although no such exists, so I could perhaps attribute existence to God, although no God existed.
And so I very clearly recognise that the certainty and truth of all knowledge depends alone on the knowledge of the true God. Outside myself, in addition to extension, figure and motions of bodies, I beheld in them hardness, heat, light and colour, and scents and sounds, so that I could distinguish the sky, the earth, the sea and other bodies.
And yet I learn that some persons seem to feel pain in an amputated part, which makes me doubt the sources of my own pain.
But this active faculty does not presuppose thought, and, as I am a thinking thing, it is necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me. Yet, I interpret them as the essence of bodies outside me, as to which, in fact, they can teach me nothing but what is most obscure and confused. It would be natural for such a body, if it suffered the dropsy, to move the nerves and other parts to obtain drink, which is the feature of this disease although it is harmful to the sufferer.
By this, the mind is excited to do its utmost to remove the cause of the evil as dangerous to the foot. I ought in never to doubt the truth of such matters, if having called up my senses, memory, and understanding to examine them, nothing is perceived by any one of them which is repugnant to that set forth by the others. Cannot a Frenchman or a German reason about the same things, even though they have different words?
And although they may perhaps find trivial complaint, they can for all their pains make no objection which is deserving of reply.
Often I have dreamt that I was dressed and seated near this fire, whilst I was lying undressed in bed! The very knowledge of my existence does not depend on uncertain things, nor could I feign it; for there would still be the I that feigns things.
It becomes liquid, it heats so that scarcely can one handle it, and when one strikes it, no sound is made. I seems that I could not even understand through the imagination what this piece of wax is. But I do not find it any more convincing that ideas proceed from objects outside me, for there is often a great difference between knowledge and appearance. Moreover, things such as light, colours, tastes, heat or cold are so obscure and confused that I do not even know if they are true or false. From this, it is manifest that He cannot be a deceiver, since the light of nature teaches us that deception necessarily proceeds from some defect. And because I remembered that I had made use of the senses rather than reason, I came to believe that all the ideas in my mind that had come to me through the senses. I have experienced sensations when I sleep, yet I do not think they proceed from objects outside of me, so I do not see any reason why I should believe those I have while awake.
Either this substance is a body, that is, a corporeal nature, or it is God, or some other noble creature. This comparison of a sick man to a faulty clock may be a mere verbal quibble, but it remains to inquire how the goodness of God does not prevent the nature of man from being fallacious. It is true that God could have constituted the nature of man such that this movement would have conveyed something quite different to the mind, but nothing would have contributed so well to the conservation of the body.
So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. I am a thinking thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, imagines and feels.
So, must I conclude that the wax is properly known through vision rather than from intuition of mind?
The sun, for instance, seems very small, yet we know from astronomical calculation that it is very great.
Finally, because I know an infinitude of other properties in God, none of which I can either diminish or change. Furthermore, nature persuaded me of many things which reason found repellant, so that I did not believe that I should trust nature. Or that the stars, towers, and other distant bodies are of the same figure as they appear to our eyes. But I know that corporeal objects can readily be divided into parts, which alone would teach me that the mind or soul is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.
If he concludes that mind is motion, he could with equally conclude that earth is sky, or anything else he fancied. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. But if we grant this, may we not also grant that the men I see outside my window are just automatic machines wearing hats and coats? I knew that my will did not control the ideas I received from the senses, but did not think that reason to conclude that they proceeded from outside myself, since possibly some hidden faculty in me might produce them. Nature teaches me to flee from things that cause the sensation of pain, and seek things that communicate to me the sentiment of pleasure. Just as a painter represents sirens or satyrs from a medley of different animals; even quite novel images are still composed of real colours. They may not be exactly as we perceive them, but we must at least admit that such part of them as is clear and distinct (such as that described by mathematics) are truly to be recognised as external objects.
But I do not see that this teaches me that from those sense-perceptions we should ever form any conclusion regarding things outside of us, without having carefully mentally examined them.
For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to knowledge of the truth about such things. Thus, although a star makes no bigger impression on my eye than a tiny candle flame, yet I have always judged it larger.



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