1st Meditation: Skeptical Doubts
The Meditator seeks to form a better understanding of his knowledge framework by employing doubt on everything he has come to believe is true. He acknowledges that through his senses he has been able arrive at certain truths about the world, however, when he concerns himself with the things he senses in his dreams he realizes that certain facets cannot be entirely true and so are cast into doubt. The Meditator goes on to analyze God before turning to what he calls an evil demon that is designed to deceive all that we believe to be true, thus by casting doubt on everything he can elude this demon’s falsehoods.
2nd Meditation, Part 1: Cogito ergo sum & Sum res cogitans
The Meditator continues to cast doubt on everything he believes to know, even his own existence. However, as he follows his line of questioning he arrives at the famous “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”). The Meditator concludes that the fact that there is an “I” that thinks and that can doubt suggests that thought is inseparable from being, thus he must exist, if he did not think, he would not exist. This formulation, known as the sum res cogitans, therefore puts forth the idea that he is a thinking thing.
2nd Meditation, Part 2: The Wax Argument
After concluding that the “I” can think, imagine, and sense, the Meditator moves on to the Wax argument to show how even though a piece of wax can change shape and form we can still recognize it as a piece of wax. The Meditator’s process of thinking allows him to place the intellect as above our senses and the imagination when it pertains to how we come to know things, such as how the same piece of wax, even if it has changed its constitution, can still be understood as a piece of wax.
3rd Meditation, Part 1: Clear and Distinct Perceptions & Descartes’s Theory of Ideas
After asserting that perception and sensation are not adequate forms of knowing for certain, the Meditator decides to turn his focus on the nature of God, but before he can do so he speculates on the different kinds of thoughts, the three different forms of ideas, and the levels of which we can doubt assumptions.
3rd Meditation, Part 2: Descartes’s Theory of Ideas (continued)
The Meditator considers the relationship between ideas and thoughts, both formal and objective.
3rd Meditation, Part 3: The Existence of God & The Cartesian Circle
The Meditator delves deeper into exploring the possibility of God’s existence through his intellect.
4th Meditation, Part 1: God Is No Deceiver
The Meditator arrives at two conclusions, one is that God is not a deceiver, and two is that since the Mediator is a product of God’s creation he must have God’s capacity for infallibility. However, the Meditator discovers a contradiction, while God is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient, the Meditator, himself, is finite and still open to making mistakes, thus the Meditator locates himself somewhere in between. Finally, the Meditator suggests that it is not worthwhile to try to understand God’s motives, or to think of one’s singular self as an individual product of God’s will, but instead to think of oneself as a part for the whole of all of God’s creations.
4th Meditation, Part 2: Will, Intellect, and the Possibility of Error
The Meditator ponders where the source of error comes from, interrogating both the intellect and the will as potential sources, describing the differences between them, and places particular emphasis on the power of the will to make judgements. Descartes concludes that free will is in fact the source of error.
5th Meditation: The Essence of Material Things & The Existence of God Considered a Second Time
The Meditator turns his focus on his understanding of mathematical and geometric objects and how he can come to understand if they do not exist materially in the word, and through an investigation of triangles, the Meditator is also able to find proof for God’s existence, and how God is the reason for his ability to make inferences based on his perceptions.
6th Meditation, Part 1: Cartesian Body
According to the Meditator materials things exist based on the imagination and the senses. The imagination being tied to the body, while the senses and sensation are derived from outside of the body.
6th Meditation, Part 2: Mind-Body Dualism
The Meditator analyzes the relationship and distinction between the mind and the body, wondering how they exist in relation to sensory perception and imagination, and how and if they can be considered as two separate entities.
6th Meditation, Part 3: Primary and Second Qualities
The Meditator considers primary qualities and secondary qualities and what and what they cannot tell us about the world or about what we can or should feel about the world such as pain or pleasure. This distinction is what the Meditator thinks about as that between sensory and intellectual perception. This division is further broken down between sensationalism and physicalism and their relationship to the secondary qualities and how they inform how we understand the world. In the end, the senses are not perfect, but should be considered guideposts for helping us maneuver knowledge and the truth as it pertains to our bodies.