René Descartes

Start Your Free Trial

Examine the implications behind Descartes' statement regarding, "If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far s possible, all things."

Expert Answers info

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In terms of the the philosophical implications of Descartes' statement, the idea becomes very clear that the ability to think is what defines consciousness.  The doubt inherent in the questioning of existence is resolved in that one can actually "think" and formulate the ability to doubt their own being in the world.  It is here where Descartes' statement holds profound implications because it takes nothing for granted, and seeks to construct a sense of the certainty within existence.  Descartes uses doubt as a way to construct certainty.  It is here where he is able to say that one can doubt all things and that which sustains such scrutiny can be considered real.  Descartes' use of doubt establishes the dualism between than which is living and nonliving, of subjects and objects.  It is here where I think that the Postmodern critique of Descartes can be linked back to his statement.  The ability to doubt everything is part of what makes his thinking so infallible in his own mind.  Yet, postmodern thinkers critique him because he fails to doubt his own dualism.  It is almost as if he uses doubt to merely substantiate a structure that he sees as impermeable to doubt.  Through this, one can use Descartes' own penchant for doubt in a larger context, one that questions everything and everything.  Cartestian logic through doubt can be applied to any and all conditions.  The ability to doubt the certainty of a dualistic mode of being would be a part of this.  It is here where I think that there is much in way of implications to Cartesian notions of doubt.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial