Meditations on First Philosophy


René Descartes

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The Evil Demon Character Analysis

In a famous thought experiment that philosophers have studied closely for centuries, the Meditator sorts his certain beliefs from his uncertain ones by imagining that an evil demon is controlling his mind and planting all of his perceptions in it. This possibility means that he can’t trust any of what he sees, hears, smells, touches, or tastes—and it forces him to seek another foundation for his knowledge about the world (which turns out to be the very fact that he exists).

The Evil Demon Quotes in Meditations on First Philosophy

The Meditations on First Philosophy quotes below are all either spoken by The Evil Demon or refer to The Evil Demon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Knowledge, Doubt, and Science Theme Icon
First Meditation Quotes

I will suppose therefore that […] some malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me. I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgement. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things. I shall stubbornly and firmly persist in this meditation; and, even if it is not in my power to know any truth, I shall at least do what is in my power, that is, resolutely guard against assenting to any falsehoods, so that the deceiver, however powerful and cunning he may be, will be unable to impose on me in the slightest degree.

Related Characters: The Meditator (speaker), The Evil Demon
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Second Meditation Quotes

So after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.

Related Characters: The Meditator (speaker), René Descartes, The Evil Demon
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Evil Demon Character Timeline in Meditations on First Philosophy

The timeline below shows where the character The Evil Demon appears in Meditations on First Philosophy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
First Meditation
Knowledge, Doubt, and Science Theme Icon
God and the World Theme Icon
Intellectual Discipline Theme Icon
...taken for granted. To make this easier, it’s helpful to imagine that it’s a “ malicious demon ” (and not God) who’s deceiving him into thinking that everything he observes actually exists—when... (full context)
Second Meditation
Knowledge, Doubt, and Science Theme Icon
Mind and Body Theme Icon
...being with a body and a soul. Yet he has decided to assume that an evil demon is tricking him, so he can’t accept that his body really exists. He also can’t... (full context)