Searching for Knowledge with Descartes and Merleau-Ponty

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Authors
Wald, Elliot
Advisor
Greiner, Katherine
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Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
Searching for Knowledge with Descartes and Merleau-Ponty
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Presentation
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Abstract
The search for knowledge is one that many people have undergone in some form or another. René Descartes and Maurice Merleau-Ponty are both philosophers who describe this search: defining knowledge and discussing the best way to find it. Descartes’ work revolves around the notion of pure, irrefutable truth isolated through the correct use of reason. He emphasizes how applying those truths allows one to control their external environment. In contrast, Merleau-Ponty focuses on the imperfection of human perception and how accepting its flaws leads to a better understanding of oneself. He explains that this knowledge of self makes it easier for people to form connections with others, respect their opinions and work together in society. Though these two thinkers disagree about the nature of knowledge and reason, both recognize that curiosity is an inherent human quality that allows people to grow their understanding of the world. Their works suggest that by combining scientific and social inquiry, searching for knowledge leads humans to become better versions of themselves.
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Degree Awarded
Semester
Spring
Department
Honors Scholars Program