Thinking, Decisions, Conviction and Beliefs by Descartes


As human beings, we acquire experiences or convictions during the whole lifetime. We come into contact with people and events that shape our thinking and beliefs. The family is the first institution, where we get information about the world Decisions and beliefs of a parent shape the child in his or her formative years. This becomes ingrained in their system, and sometimes they end up just like their parents. With the same lifestyle, prejudices and biases just to mention a few.



As a child begin attending school, teachers and peers take over and shape their lives. If the parent is not following up the child’s progress and his spheres of influence, the child foundation get shaken. Most of them start looking up to their peers and teachers for approval and acceptance and thus their convictions develop. The media is also a great influence on one's conviction and beliefs. As teenagers look for their identity, celebrities play a major role in this. Musicians, actors, artists, radio and television personalities they all have a bearing on what young people find as ‘cool’.

As the adulthood strike, the cares of this world take precedence. With certain expectations from society to behave in a particular way, we all find ourselves bogged down, and change is not acceptable. The kids also come along, and we pass down all that we have picked along the journey to adulthood.

This is similar way in which everyone gets his or her personal experience. The beliefs we acquire do not change regardless of how much we advance technologically, scientifically, socially, and economically. In meditation II, Descartes decides to retrace his life and the foundation of convictions he had gathered over the years. For me, his life had followed a familiar path every human being follows. Unless we question the foundations that formed those convictions, we are what we get and believe.

A person has three main elements: mind, body and soul. The body constitutes the outward appearance. The mind is everything we think. The soul is what we actually do. In meditation I, Descartes proposes that the only way to certainty is to be skeptical about everything. He holds the opinion that if one considers a matter systematically, he or she will make discoveries of truth regarding the object of analysis. He uses skeptical hypothesis to question existing classes of knowledge.


What provokes my mind is how Descartes is able to discover the truth by not trusting without questioning. Similarly, we tend to imbibe everything that is thrown to us without making an attempt to question the motives and the end product of what we belief. We fail to engage our minds to reason and discover where the truth lies. We become easy preys of propaganda, misrepresentations and lies.

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