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Week 1 Journal
Descartes opens his Meditations by describing a crisis of doubt brought on by the radical changes in scientific and religious ideas in the 17th century. (Descartes, R. (2007). Meditations on first philosophy (Links to an external site.) (J. Bennett, Trans.). Retrieved from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1641.pdf) He says, “Some years ago I was struck by how many false things I had believed,” and he sets out to find a way to overcome his doubts and to find certainty. His response might seem extreme. In order to find certainty, he attempted to doubt everything and rebuild his beliefs from scratch using pure reason.
In this journal, you will reflect on this extreme response and try to understand what would compel someone to rethink their entire belief system.
In two to three pages, describe a time when you felt compelled to rethink everything you believed, and then, describe how you were able to rebuild your beliefs from scratch.
If you have never experienced such a time, then describe what it would take for you to feel the need to rethink everything, and then, describe how you would be able to rebuild your beliefs from scratch.
Either way, be sure to discuss the role of reason and certainty in rebuilding your beliefs. For example, you might consider discussing questions such as: “Is reason enough to build a satisfactory belief system or do you need something more than reason alone? Are you able to achieve certainty, or, instead, must you learn to live without certainty?”
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