CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
One of the most important branches of philosophy is epistemology (theory of knowledge) which is the dominant trend of it is the Rationalism and Empiricism. Philosophers have attempted to discover the means by which our knowledge is acquired, the extent of our knowledge and the standards or criteria by which we can judge the reliability of knowledge claims. Hence, the problem of what and how we know is one of the most difficult questions in the field of philosophy which has been keenly debated in the writing of philosophers. For some skeptics, it is believed that man cannot acquire knowledge with certainty, that it is impossible for man to attain absolute certain knowledge. But during the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes posed this problem in a different way. As the undisputed European father of modern philosophy belonging to scientific epoch in history, Rene Descartes recognized the new world order, the scientific discoveries and the changing trend in knowledge acquisition. He found knowledge from the tradition to be dubitable because authorities disagree; empirical knowledge is dubitable because of illusions, hallucination and dream. Because of this, he advocated the fundamental process of reasoning in addition to doubting the evidence of the senses. He used “Methodic Doubt” found in his philosophical writing “Meditations on First Philosophy”, to reach certain knowledge of self-existence in the act of thinking expressed in the indubitable proposition: Cogito Ergo Sum” (‘ I think, therefore I am”).
In these Meditations, Descartes indicates how we are able to guarantee our belief to what is indubitable, that involves him in a series of six (6) Meditations, of which we shall mainly focus on only the first two as it concern us, precisely because Descartes in these Meditations employed the method of philosophical reflection and the conclusion that he draws from using that method as is fully appraised or exposed in o ne of the chapters in this work.
1.1 Statement of Problem
Descartes Method of Doubt has been an issue of controversy among scholars. Descartes felt that he could be certain only of that which could never be false or doubtful. He determined to test knowledge derived from sense experience, arguing that reason is the pima-matrix through which certain knowledge is granted, obtaining through what he called ‘self-doubt’, which has challenged a host of philosophers to argue in agreement or disagreement with him. Thus, the problem of this research is to show how vital is in attainment of knowledge in general and also to find out whether man’s epistemological enquiry of certainty in knowledgement requires doubt as Descartes rightly claims.
1.2 Thesis Statement
This research examines Descartes Methodic Doubt, pointing out the implications for his philosophy.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
Our objective of this research is to expose, analyze and criticize the content of Descartes ‘Methodic Doubt and its implication with the view of finding out the adequacy (if any) of his Methodic Doubt to knowledge acquisition in philosophy.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The concrete benefit gained from this work is manifold. It would help us learn how to use our reason properly in order to solve problem that has to do with acquiring knowledge. This study would help sharpen our mind on how to pursue knowledge with certainty for clear and distinct understanding of reality.
1.5: Scope of the Study
This research project studies the “Methodic Doubt” of Rene Descartes with the aim of finding out the adequacy of his doubting claim. Hence, the scope of this project is limited to Descartes epistemological problems of certainty about knowledge found in his Meditation.
1.6 Research Methodology
The method of our research is highly critical and expository which aim at analyzing the principles of Rene Descartes Methodic Doubt. Our data will be collected from philosophical works in the libraries, and besides the library, research method involves the use of textbooks, materials from the internet and philosophical journal will be equally used. Above all, our work will employ the modern M.L.A. style of document in its citation.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION