Descartes’ cogito philosophy suggests that if one convinces oneself of an idea or concept, then it is real. According to Newman (2010), Descartes puts forward a very simple candidate as the “first item of knowledge”. In addition, the philosophy notes that in testing the cogito with doubts, there should be certainty in the results. Nevertheless, the existence of thoughts may offer doubts and uncertainty in the existence of mankind. Descartes’ cogito arguments state that the arguments about experiences cannot be disproved as long as one understands the idea correctly (Garber, 2003). Nevertheless, the cogito arguments face a great deal of objections because of the “misguided attempts to reconstruct the argument as a syllogism: [firstly] whatever thinks exists, [secondly] I think, [thirdly] therefore, I exist” (Garber, 2003). In order to understand Descartes' argument, one must first recognize that the argument is not a syllogism, but is based on the argument, “I think, therefore I exist”.
In essence, the act of “thinking, doubting, believing, sensing, or any other mental concepts” (Garber, 2003), establishes one's way of life. The fact that these individuals are aware of these mental concepts means that the individuals exist. In fact, existence is not possible without the ability to think, doubt, and rationalize ideas. Descartes created the philosophy to show that science rests on the firm beliefs that these principles are there in one’s mind, and not in one’s senses. Consequently, Descartes point to these beliefs to show that all of our knowledge is opened to doubts.
Descartes presents three arguments to unlock the doubts individuals have of their knowledge. These are the deceiving God argument, the dream argument, and the evil demon argument. Each idea forms the belief that people do not recognize external objects directly, but only see the contents of their minds, and the images that the external objects produce in individuals. The dream argument centers on the belief that since there are no clear signs that differentiate dreams from waking experiences, it is possible that people are always dreaming and perceptions are unreal. However, Descartes reasons that some individuals may not acknowledge that dreams are illusions, and therefore he presents the concept of the deceiving God to increase the depth of doubt that exists in people.
The Evil Demon Hypotheses points to distrust of the existence of perception and beliefs. Descartes describes a “malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning” (Descartes, 2012) that mainly serves to deceive. However, the perception of cogito presents the way to discourage the idea of the “evil demon concept”. Conversely, the Evil Demon Hypothesis is an integral part of the Method of Doubt theory (Descartes, 2012). The Method of Doubt suggests that in order to find the truth, one must deny consent from the doubtful beliefs. In other words, one doubts the validity of distant objects, and identifies it through perception, but cannot doubt the concept that is clear or obvious. For example, the individual sees two figures in the distance, and assumes that both individuals are males because they are dressed like males; but cannot doubt that one is male and one is female if they are in close proximity.
The fact that most individuals believe in an all powerful Creator, adds to Descartes view that people are deceived even in the logical thoughts they have about the basic nature of the world. Nevertheless, Descartes awareness of the reality that God does not deceive people leads to the third argument that God is not at the center of the deception that people face, but instead there is a presence of evil demons that is capable of deceiving individuals in a way that is similar to God. This argument forms the basis that suggest that although there is a deceiver, deception is based on the principle that people are deceived, if they exist. In other words, a person is deceived about their thoughts, but cannot be deceived by the fact that they exist, and perceive objects with specific characteristics.
Newman (2010) postulates that the Now Dreaming Doubt perspectives suggest the universal possibility of delusion, while the Always Dreaming Doubt suggests the possibility or universal delusions. In addition, the former perspective indicates that it is possible that any of the sensory experience in dreams can be delusive, while the latter suggests that dreams are sensory experiences that are delusions from “God’s – eye perspective” (Newman, 2010). Therefore, the doubtful results of the Always Dreaming Doubt are more overwhelming than the Now Dreaming Doubt. The fact is, if the individual does not know that “normal waking” experiences result from external objectives. In addition, there is the possibility that every event in one’s life is a form of dream.
In concluding, Descartes' philosophy is conflicting. It suggests that the Evil Demon concept is one way to explain the doubts an individual may have in the Creator or the cognitive nature. His beliefs speak to the possibilities of the flaws that exist in the thoughts of how people view their existence. On the other hand, the fundamental arguments contend that there is a powerful doubt that man is not the creature of an all-powerful being. In addition, his philosophy suggests that the dreaming doubt is delusive or delusional as dreams are sensory experiences from God.
"Descartes' Evil Demon Argument" StudyMode.com. 09 2012. 2012. 09 2012
Garber, Daniel (1998, 2003). Descartes, René. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. London: Routledge. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from
Newman, Lex, "Descartes' Epistemology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010
Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =