Post your response to the following question: Which Renaissance philosopher do you think developed the greatest contribution to humanity? Explain your answer.
I think it is very important to know one’s heritage. It is even more important however to know who created us. It is entirely possible that we are the product of purely natural processes governed by the laws of nature. But in this indulgence is the Achilles heel of the materialist claim. Who decided that matter should interact the way it does? Who decided the laws of nature? But back to the point. I have always thought that the first step to leading someone to Christ would be to convince them that God existed in the first place. It appears I was mistaken. It appears that I needed to start with Descartes’ line of reason, which says, “I think, therefore I am.” It would seem that it is more fundamental to prove, firstly that we do exist and secondly, that God exists because if we do not exist then how can a God exist? It might appear a given that we exist, but I am not talking about merely having inanimate life. I am speaking about all that is implied about existence. Firstly, there has to be a cause that precipitated the effect of our existence. Secondly, we are aware of our existence.
Sometimes the simplest things—the things we assume are givens—tell us so much. We think therefore we are. The implications of this statement are earth-shattering. I would definitely say that Descartes made one of the greatest contributions to humanity. He told us who we are.
Post your response to the following question: How did the greatest contribution of the Renaissance philosopher you identified in Discussion Question 1 affect 18th and 19th-century philosophy?
I would say that Descartes changed everyone’s thinking from the time of his death forward. The statement, “I think, therefore I am” is not only a philosophical statement, but it lays the foundation for the scientific method and the renaissance. Descartes was looking for truth. He was looking for absolute truth. He was looking for truths that could not be turned away through any argument. Is that not what the scientific method, etc… seeks to do? It seeks to prove absolute truths that might even go against mainstream society. After Descartes, a seed was planted in the human mind that could never be undone. After Descartes humans learned to find the truth, at any expense. We learned that nothing is absolute that cannot be proven. In short, we learned to learn for the first time.
Bruder, K., & Moore, B. N. (2002). Philosophy: The power of ideas (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.