Second Paper (due 11/22) Guidelines
“Esse est percipi” is an ancient Latin saying that means “What is is what is perceived to be”. However, a 17th Century philosopher, René Descartes (1596-1650), although he basically agreed with this, also thought we should consider the possibility that our perceptions sometimes deceive and mislead us, so should not be entirely trusted, if we are going to make wise decisions in life. In one of his Meditations (1641), Descartes suggested should consider the hypothesis of an “evil demon” who comes between us and all we observe, distorting our perceptions. A previous work of Descartes, The Discourse on Method (1637) had formulated as a fundamental rule for attaining to any kind of reliable knowledge: “everything must be doubted.” Given this uncertainty about all we think we know, the implication seems to be we should be modest and cautious about coming to conclusions, based on our perceptions, and especially about acting on them.
In an essay of 4 pages, double-space, 12pt ., discuss these ideas in relation to Don Quixote; and either Candide, or Notes from Underground, focusing especially on how these readings offer examples that confirm or belie Descartes’ theories