Possible Steps in Descartes' Argument in Meditation II
that Some Things Are Better Known

© by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last modified January 27, 2006

Some of these may be stated premises, some of them may be assumed premises, some are intermediate steps, and one is the final conclusion. These steps are not necessarily in the logical order they have in Descartes' reasoning. It is up to you to figure out which are ultimate premises, which are intermediate steps, and which is the final conclusion, and what the precise linkage is. If you discover other steps in the passage you may introduce them in your argument analysis.

I know indubitably only those ideas that hyperbolic doubt (e.g., the Evil Demon) cannot call into question.

Whenever I perceive or think I perceive something, I am more certain about my own existence as a perceiver than I am about what I am perceiving. (33.2)

My essence is thought, or I am a thinking thing.(31.1)

That I am a thinking thing is clearly and distinctly known.

Ideas about particular bodies arise either in sensing or in imagination (where imagination is understood as contemplation of the shape or image of a corporeal thing, 31.2).

Ideas of sense and imagination might be supplied by a very powerful evil demon.

Ideas about particular bodies are rather uncertain.

Ideas about any body I might have are not clearly and distinctly known.

Nothing can be perceived more easily and more clearly than my own mind [and its nature] (34.1)

"I am, I exist" is true every time I utter or conceive it in my mind.

I exist so long as I think.

I may admit into my claims about knowledge only what I know indubitably.

Whatever a thing must have in order to exist, and whose presence is sufficient for its existence, is its essence.