Thursday, August 6, 2020

Descartes’ Method of Doubt in Building Foundations of Knowledge

Griffith “Griff” Littlehale is an artist who focuses on commissioned works in mediums such as digital design and sketching. An avid reader of philosophy, Griffith Robert Littlehale particularly values the work of thinkers such as Albert Camus and Rene Descartes.

The 17th century French philosopher Descarte was also renowned as a mathematician, and played a key role in introducing skepticism as a foundation of the scientific method. His “Method of Doubt” was laid out in the beginning of the First Meditation and had a stated aim to “demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations.”

Diverging from the skeptics, who doubted only in order to doubt, Descartes had a constructive perspective. He used doubt as a tool in reaching certainty. An example involves people who, as they mature, hold various opinions stored from childhood, some of which they start to question may be false.

Trying to separate false beliefs from those that are true, so as to avoid contamination, only creates uncertainty. Descartes would hold that it is better to reject all beliefs together as false and then examine each belief anew one by one. Only those beliefs that proved both indubitable and true would be readopted and employed as foundations of knowledge.