Rene Descartes believed that people should question their senses and universal truths about the universe and what was certainty.
“They think they are kings when they are really quite poor…who imagine that they have an earthenware head or are nothing but pumpkins…” (18). Here he brings up examples of people that are “devoid” of sense. These people are delusional and loose their sense of their selves because they are engulfed in “the violent vapours of black bile” basically they are so wrapped up in a false reality that they themselves believe they are one thing, when in reality they are really another. For example, a person with a pumpkin on their head or a poor man is really just a person with a head made out of clay or a being a royal king.
Because we experience the world through our senses, and our senses are fallible, we can’t “know” anything, our thoughts are composed of what we know as different levels of belief. His thought process makes sense when it is put into laymen’s terms: we accept geometric truths because of the reinforcement of these concepts in our lives i.e. all squares have four sides, a circle is round & has no sides—these are basic truths we accept because they are reinforced to us during school and such.
I found his arguments about dreaming to be the most interesting twist on how people may mistake reality for a dream & vice versa: “our memory can never connect our dreams one with the other, or with the whole course of our lives, as it unites event which happen to us while we are awake” (20). This concept is very true, one can never dream about something they have not already seen once before (in “reality”). For instance, a girl can never picture in her mind during a dream about her “dream guy” without having seen him already prior to having the dream.
Descartes has an interesting way of explaining his thoughts and reasoning’s, for instance; he would say one thing and then retract it by reinforcing his belief in God (which was a big thing during his time period, everything was made by God etc.). “We must confess that the life of man is very frequently subject to error in respect to individual objects, and we must in the end acknowledge the infirmity (mental weakness) of our nature” (20). Descartes, a man of many words & philosophical thoughts, leaves us with mankind must accept that we as human beings are subject to making mistakes and falsely perceiving things due to our nature (it is simply natural).
I wonder what he would think about the concept of “déjà vu.” If I ever sense déjà vu I get completely freaked out, and then I question reality by asking myself: Have I been here before? Why is this happening again, how did this just happen again? I remember wearing this exact pumpkin on my head, wearing this exact outfit in this exact place….what's happening? The absurdity of the situation allows me to disregard the previous moment of déjà vu and move on from it because it is too crazy of a thought for me to process that I am basically living and reliving my life (it could all be a lie or repetition of some sort that I am unaware of….).