Descartes, Hume, and Plato

Free Essay Sample «Descartes, Hume, and Plato»

When it comes to philosophy, it is extremely difficult to identify the correct and incorrect answers. The matter is that questions of philosophers simply cannot be answered because their aim is to promote philosophizing and seek the truth. The philosophers have always been criticizing each other and argued about the crucial issues such as cognition and a thinking process. In the paper, Hume’s reactions on Plato’s criticism of Protagoras and Descartes’ hyperbolic doubt will be analyzed as well as it will be explained who of these philosophers has the closest ideas to my world perception.

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First, it is necessary to mention that Hume’s subjective idealism contradicts to Plato’s objective idealism. It means that Plato believed in ideas that exist in objective world, while Hume assumed that people perceive the world via impressions and feelings. Plato is the follower of Socrates, who argued moral relativism performed by Protagoras and other sophists and thought that they should not take place in the Greek society. Protagoras believed that people perceive the world in a unique way because every person is unique and is of the highest value ever. In addition, Protagoras stated that there are no the same moral principles and standards for the entire humankind and insisted on subjectivism of cognition and morality. On the contrary to Protagoras, Plato suggested that people share similar values and moral rules that exist in the world of ideas. It is common knowledge that Plato created a utopia of a perfect polis, where all groups of people live in accordance with their predestination and natural inclinations. Plato was an idealist, who thought that unity and understanding within the relationships may be gained and utilized successfully. Plato divided people into different categories that have distinct values, principles, and purposes, while Protagoras insisted on the importance o every person’s life and equality of all people regardless of their financial and social status. Hume would reject Plato’s position and confirm that cognition is subjective. Furthermore, he would claim that every individual’s worldview comes from his or her personal feelings and impressions irrespective of some common stages and principles.

David Hume would also argue about Descartes hyperbolic doubt as Descartes’ rationalism was opposite to Hume’s skepticism and agnosticism. Descartes posed a doubt as a method of cognition, though he hyperbolized it and doubted in everything except for his own doubts and existence. Descartes thought that a human is able to reach the truth via ratio followed by empirical experience. Philosopher believed that objective world can be comprehended by humans, who develop various means of cognition. On the contrary, Hume argued such hyperbolic doubt as people are able to cognize the world via feelings and impressions.  However, he thought that people may not know definitely if the objective world really exists, though they may know about the phenomena of objective world that exist in human minds. Hume would criticize Descartes’ assumption regarding the wrongness of feelings and impressions as the sources of cognition. He concluded that some phenomena may be cognized objectively through empirical experience, even if the objective world remains incomprehensible to humans. Thus, Hume criticizes Descartes’ position concerning the cognition via ratio and his beliefs in the cognition of objective world.

It is extremely difficult for me to choose the philosopher, whose worldview and principles are similar to mine. Reading Plato, Protagoras, Descartes, and Hume gives me pleasure and intellectual satisfaction. They are the greatest figures of their epochs and I sincerely appreciate their contribution to the cultural development. I am far from being an objective idealist like Plato, however, I agree with his ideas regarding aristocracy and the role of a philosopher in the society. I also approve Protagoras’ views on the individuals as the greatest value and purpose ever. Descartes’ rationalism, on the one hand, makes people believe in the power of their mind to cognize the world and seek for the truth and God. I confirm that people should doubt and think about their each decision as one may get wrong and incomplete information. I agree with Descartes’ position on science that it should be reconsidered in order to make lives of future generations much better. However, I do not believe that some ideas are inherent to people. Critics of Descartes including Hume have provided a sufficient base for doubts in Cartesian philosophy and methods of cognition. Hume assumed that people can influence phenomena concerning the reality in their mind, but the objective world cannot be analyzed and understood by them. While sleeping, people usually believe that their dreams are true as their feelings and impressions are real. Therefore, I cannot rely on my impressions and feelings as the sources of information about the reality. I also cannot conclude that the world exist because I may be just dreaming about it. I do not agree that the truth may be comprehended because the existence of truth as a principle or statement is also doubtful.

Judging from the abovementioned information, Hume’s criticism of Plato and Descartes derives from his skepticism and agnosticism. As the philosophical views of Protagoras, Plato, Descartes, and Hume are distinct and even opposite, it is easy to understand the essence of their disagreement. There is no such philosopher, whose views and opinions are similar to my perception of the world; however, I believe that every philosopher’s teaching is extremely useful for my cognition and deserves to be respected.

Free Essay Sample «Descartes, Hume, and Plato»

 

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