Descartes Cogito

  • The assignment is to choose one of the following topics and write a 4 – 5 page paper on that topic. If you have questions about the particular topics, or about the paper in general, please bring them up in class or office hours, or send me an email.
  • Papers are due by the end of lecture on Tuesday, November 10th. Any papers not given, in person, to the instructor by that time will be considered late. Electronic submissions will be considered late. As stated in the syllabus, there is a 7-point per day late penalty on all papers – no excuses will be accepted.
  • Be sure to write your name, section, and the topic you have chosen on the first page of your paper. Your paper should be double spaced, and have reasonable margins on the top, bottom, and sides of each page (1 inch max) and in a reasonable font (12 pt Times New Roman or Garamond is standard). Be sure to staple the pages of your paper together.
  • Reminder: Cite your sources, and make sure those sources do not include Wikipedia. Drawing on the posted lecture notes or outside source material is fine, just be sure to properly cite them. Materials and ideas borrowed or paraphrased from a source that is not cited are plagiarized.





  1. Explain the significance of Descartes’ Cogito: “I think, therefore I am.” Your essay should include discussions of
    1. The large epistemological project in which Descartes was engaged, and why, in the context of that project he thought the Cogito was so important
    2. The significance of certainty and doubt in that project, and its relationship to how and when beliefs are justified
    3. The three arguments that Descartes gives before he arrives at the Cogito, and what they were designed to show
    4. An assessment of those arguments, with consideration given to whether or not you agree with Descartes about, for instance
      1. Whether you can tell or rule out the possibility that you are dreaming
      2. Whether you can tell or rule out the possibility that you are currently in the Matrix or some other computer simulation
  • Why the Cogito is relevant to these possibilities


Keep writing level to an undergrad level please



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