Why René Descartes philosophy is irrefutable

There’s no question that René Descarte’s philosophy is unique. Often regarded as the “father of modern philosophy”, Descartes uses objective and irrefutable evidence to argue his claims. While many philosophers such as Fredrick Nietzsche and Socrates depended on their personal views, Descartes was one of the few philosophers who argued using facts solely.

Perhaps the most unique characteristic of Descartes is what he argued for. Descartes spent the vast majority of his time proving the existence of god; separating him from most philosophers of his time — people who spent the vast majority of their time arguing against the existence of god.

Setting the stage

Now you’re probably asking, why did Descartes rely solely on facts without voicing his personal opinions? Simple — because he’d be ripped to shreds if he did. He knew that nobody would take his theories as they were; they’d find every opportunity they could to shut him down. For this reason, he made no assumptions in his work — and it showed.

Proving the existence of god

Alright, so how did Descartes exclusively use objective information to argue his points? Well, in order to establish fundamental truths, he first started with invalidating non-objective information.

Doubts

He asked himself what information could be doubted. First, he looked to the future and asked himself “can I guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow?”. Well of course not, we don’t know for certain what could happen in the future. Using that insight, he looked to the past and asked himself “Can I be sure that I ate lamb last night?”. Again, of course not — our memories deceive us.

What about the present; can we trust our senses? In order to invalidate this, he looked to our dreams. When we dream, although conscious of the fact that we exist, we believe that we’re somewhere we really aren’t. The next morning, we wake up surprised in our beds.

Truths

Ok, so then what can be true? If you’re currently dreaming and this world is just a figment of your imagination, how can we be sure that anything is true? I think, therefore I am. The only thing we can be sure about is that we exist. If you’re thinking, you exist — regardless if this is a simulation, dream or some other non-objective world.

Origin

Now, if this is theoretically an imaginary world, Descartes argues that there is an objective world. If a sub-world exists, there needs to be an objective world by definition. Descartes proceeds to apply this logic to the objective world. All things need some cause.

You exist because of matter, which exists because of particles, which exists because of molecules, which exists because of atoms, which exists because of electrons, neutrons and protons, which exist because of quarks.

Eventually, no matter what you analyze, everything starts with the big bang. The beginning of space and time itself. But according to Descartes, there needs to be something that caused the big bang. Descartes argues that god is the missing link — the beginning to this infinite rabbit hole.

Why this philosophy is so powerful

There are two primary reasons why this is so powerful:

  1. Obviously, it’s irrefutable. To argue anything else is contradicting time itself, a feat no philosopher in the 1600s was willing to do.
  2. Instead of arguing against religion like most philosophers, Descartes simply puts a spin on the traditional perspective of god.

Remember, this was during a time where it was socially unacceptable to speak against the church. Descartes is one of the few philosophers who understood that you can’t expect people to completely reconsider their ideas, beliefs and traditions just because you said so.

At the end of the day, that’s what really matters. There’s a reason Descartes’ the father of modern philosophy, after all. If your goal is to shift fundamental thought paradigms, you need to do it in a way that people can relate to (looking at you, Nietzsche!) — a great place to conclude.

I make articles about breakthrough technologies, mindsets and philosophy. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, feel free to message me or follow me here on Medium. Thanks for reading!

14 y/o working on PCV13 distribution in low-income countries

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