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  • Describe in detail the key facts of the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries and show in what way they can induce a skepticism about knowledge based on sense experience. If we can reduce the sun’s rising in the East and setting in the West to an ‘appearance’ what other as yet unthought-of large-scale illusions could we possibly be the unknowing victims of?
  • Reconstruct in your own words the arguments that Descartes uses in Meditation I to defend skepticism. Are these arguments successful on their own terms (meaning, without subsequent counter-arguments presented by Descartes later on in his text)? Why or why not? [Note: This reconstruction of the arguments should be done based on your reading of the text before doing additional research, which you can do after your initial post, and should serve as a basis for our discussion this week.
  • Explain what the Cogito is in Descartes and how it works. Is it really an argument or is it more like an intuition? How is it linked to the fact that Descartes is ‘meditating’ rather than ‘dialoging’ in this philosophical work (unlike Socrates, for example). If you yourself ‘perform’ the Cogito do you find that it works for you? Why or why not?

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  • How does Descartes define his two substances (the ones that make him an ontological dualist)? What arguments does he use to show that these are really very different from one-another, and yet apparently work together in some fashion? Is his explanation for such interaction credible or not? Why or why not? Be as specific as you can.