An Examination Of The Cartesian Self

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An Examination of the Cartesian Self The object of psychology is, arguably, no less than the Cartesian self or cogito. If Descartes was wrong, what does this tell us about the field of psychology? Word Count (Excluding Quotes and References): 2,169 An Examination of the Cartesian Self ‘Psychology’, is well established, both as an academic discipline, and an entity which holds a central role in popular culture. Perhaps its most crucial component is that of ‘the self’. The origins of the self though do not lie solely within psychology, but within the Westernised philosophy from which the discipline emerged (Hayes, 2000). ‘The self’ with which we familiarise ourselves today stems from a Cartesian perspective. However, what if the foundations of psychologies key aspect are incorrect? And what if Renee Descartes, the proponent of the Cartesian self, or cogito, is wrong in his conclusions? This essay shall be based around these issues. Firstly, the key themes regarding Descartes shall be introduced, before an examination of his notion of the cogito. Possible flaws in these conclusions, with particular reference to Lacan shall be discussed, before outlining the problems ‘psychology’ faces if its Cartesian foundation is incorrect. The focus of this essay is to examine the nature of the cogito, and what implications this has for psychology if it is in some way flawed. Yet before analysing this, it is important to consider the main ideas behind Descartes’ meditations. The first of these see’s Descartes engage in a process of radical doubt, one which he believes will leave him with one certain truth, and thus a truth which can be used as a criterion to judge every other idea which he may obtain (Cottingham, 1992). The reason for this being the deceptive nature of the senses from which all his knowledge was obtained from. “All that up to the present time I
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