The book Mediations on first philosophy is a philosophical treatise by Rene Descartes. The book is made up in six mediations and in this mediations, Descartes discusses all things which are not absolutely certain and then tries to understand what can be known for sure. In this essay I will focus on the two first mediations because they are relevant for answering the main question. The main question is: ‘Why is Descartes certain that he cannot doubt his doubting?’ To answer this question I will start looking at the first mediation for a basic understanding. Secondly I will find my answer in mediation two, where Descartes discusses his famous statement: ‘Cogito ergo sum.’
A short version of the main question is that although Descartes doubts almost anything he cannot doubt the fact that he doubts. There must be something or someone in doubt.
In the first mediation, doubt is the central theme. Descartes wants to find the foundation of knowledge by first rejecting all uncertain knowledge. He doubts not necessarily the content, but the way in which knowledge is acquired. He mentions four ways in which someone may have gained invalid knowledge. The first way someone may have gained invalid information is because of the senses, they can mislead a person. Other ways are : hallucination, dreams (how do you distinguish between dreams and reality) and the whole world can be an illusion. Descartes meant with this that he was no longer certain about the material world, demons could have places thoughts in his head: “I am like a prisoner who is enjoying an imaginary freedom while asleep.” For example, Descartes began to doubt the existence of God, evil spirits could have placed the idea god in his head. He no longer knew whether he could consider God as true or not. So Descartes rejected his world as truth and did not want to rely on his previous assumptions. Now we know that Descartes doubts almost everything but we still don’t know why...