Birthday Surprises

When reflecting the idea of truth in the eyes of Descartes, one must be certain to examine an important ideology of Descartes: doubt the truth of anything. If any certain “truth” about the world can survive this doubt, then it must be truly unquestionable. His views towards the bodily senses reflected this ideology. Things are not always as the senses perceive them to be (first sight, first hearing). In addition, it is never completely reliable to trust one’s senses to be accurate in the first place. A way to avoid this issue is to rely on the adjustment of mistaken perceptions by referring to correct ones. However, it can be ambiguous at times to distinguish which is correct: one’s personal view or a documented proof. This is why one has the ability to doubt anything. Descartes examine uses doubt to examine truth in his works. When he writes about sensory perceptions, the reader is forced to question the accuracy of one’s own senses. Dreams for instance, are internally similar to experiences one has when awake. In other words, as one is dreaming, he or she believes events to be “real” and accepts their validity, as one would when awake. With this said, the events that occur during our “awake” moments of life can be perceived as a fabrication of one’s imagination. Another example Descartes uses to question what truth really is involves religion and deities. What if the objective of a deity was to deceive its followers? This is a hypothetical question that really makes one think about what it means for a belief to be true. The point is, whenever one believes something to be true, a truly omnipotent deceiver could potentially change the world in order to render that belief false. These examples demonstrate how Descartes uses doubt and skepticism to examine truth.