There are two main aims behind Descartes’ Meditations. The first aim was to prove that Galileo’s scientific method was valid. The second aim was to show that the scientific method was compatible with Christianity and represented no threat to it. Therefore, in Meditations, Descartes has two goals:
Demonstrate the real origin of scientific knowledge lay in the mind
Show science and religion are compatible by allocating science to the physical or body and religion to the soul or mind
This analysis will show how Descartes is successful in achieving these aims.
In the Meditations, Descartes subjects himself to deep thought, allowing a day for each meditation. By the time he has ended his meditations, he believes he has legitimized all of our scientific and religions beliefs. In the first Meditation, the philosopher demonstrates that just about everything can be doubted that comes to us through the senses “Surely whatever I had admitted to now as most true I received either from the sense or through the senses. However, I have noticed that the senses are sometimes deceptive; and it is a mark of prudence never to place out complete trust in those who have deceived us even once” (Descartes 351). He is trying to show how the world of mathematics and physics can more reliably map out the world or objects around us because of the misleading nature of our senses. For example, we might think a stick in water is bent when it is really straight.
Descartes gives certain arguments for this skepticism. We may be dreaming, we may be the victims of some deceiving god, or we may be deceived by some evil demon. These arguments for universal doubt lead Descartes to his most famous statement “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am” (Rene 1). Descartes comes to this conclusion because even if we are being deceived or dreaming, the fact that we have cognitive ability proves some measure of existence. For exampl...