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DS Spring 2000 First Paper

Directed Studies: Philosophy

Please write a double-spaced, 4-6 page paper on one of the following topics.  The paper is due in your instructor’s mailbox (in 108 Connecticut Hall) by 11am on Friday, January 28.

(1)  Carefully explain how Descartes might be accused of reasoning in a circle in his use of God to verify his (Descartes’) clear and distinct perceptions.  How might Descartes defend himself against this accusation?

(2)  What does Descartes mean by the claim that the mind and body are really distinct? How does Descartes argue for this claim in the Sixth Meditation?  Does the argument succeed?  Explain why or why not.

(3) Why does Descartes think that only God could have caused my idea of God?  Discuss at least two potential objections to Descartes’ argument – objections raised by Descartes himself in the Third Meditation or objections of your own.  Does Descartes have or could he have a successful response to these objections?

(4) What beliefs does Descartes intend to call into doubt by means of his argument about dreaming in the First Meditation?  Does the argument succeed in providing a reason for doubting these beliefs?  Even if we grant that Descartes successfully escapes from the deceiving God doubt, does Descartes by the end of the Meditations successfully allay the doubts raised by the dream argument?  (See especially the last paragraph of the Sixth Meditation.)

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