Descartes Meditation Mediation in This Term Paper

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And on the same principle, although these general objects, viz. [a body], eyes, a head, hands, and the like, be imaginary, we are nevertheless absolutely necessitated to admit the reality at least of some other objects still more simple and universal than these, of which, just as of certain real colors, all those images of things, whether true and real, or false and fantastic, that are found in our consciousness (cogitatio), are formed." Thus, Descartes states that when we are dreaming or creating the dream world of art, we still use forms and shapes that have a physical reference in the real world, even the very colors we use on the canvas. In other words, rather than creating out of whole cloth, dreams and art both have a basis in physical reality of non-dreaming life. One cannot be completely creative either in painting or in dreams, for even paintings of fantasy have some referents to lived, human existence in 'reality.'

Descartes uses this as evidence, as constructed over the course of the first book, that there is an objective, rational reality outside of the subjective data of the human senses and empirical or subjective data gleaned by those senses. But one could as easily argue that the limits of human creativity and the limits of the human mind in postmodern sense highlight that there are many, subjective realities depending upon what cultural and imaginary constructs one is exposed to -- this is not proof of an objective reality outside of the mind, but the limited capacity of human creativity and mental, cognitive capacity.
Who is the thinker, doing the thinker that constructs such an objective rationalism? Descartes says he is, he thinks therefore he exists, and only God can be the activating force that enables him to see the constructed nature of art and dreams. But in the absence of God, this philosopher's logic fails, for it is just as possible that the dreams could be creating us, and that is the correspondence of what Descartes calls 'reality' and dreams and art. And in fact, some would contend our dreams and art do construct us to some degree, as individuals shape their real life based upon what they see in photographs, dreams, and art.

Works Cited

Descartes. "Meditations." From the Descartes "Meditations" home page. Last updated 1996. Translated by John Veitch 1901. Online 7 Dec 2004 at

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