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Below is the beginning excerpt from Meditations on First Philosophy, by René Descartes, 1641, in which he muses about the nature of knowledge.
MEDITATION I.Of the Things of Which We May Now Doubt1. SEVERAL years have now elapsed since I first became aware that I had accepted,even from my youth, many false opinions for true, and that consequently what Iafterward based on such principles was highly doubtful; and from that time I was convincedof the necessity of undertaking once in my life to rid myself of all the opinions I05had adopted, and of commencing anew the work of building from the foundation, if Idesired to establish a firm and abiding superstructure in the sciences. But as this enterpriseappeared to me to be one of great magnitude, I waited until I had attained an ageso mature as to leave me no hope that at any stage of life more advanced I should bebetter able to execute my design. On this account, I have delayed so long that I should10henceforth consider I was doing wrong were I still to consume in deliberation any ofthe time that now remains for action. Today, then, since I have opportunely freed mymind from all cares [and am happily disturbed by no passions], and since I am in thesecure possession of leisure in a peaceable retirement, I will at length apply myselfearnestly and freely to the general overthrow of all my former opinions.152. But, to this end, it will not be necessary for me to show that the whole of theseare false—a point, perhaps, which I shall never reach; but as even now my reason convincesme that I ought not the less carefully to withhold belief from what is not entirelycertain and indubitable, than from what is manifestly false, it will be sufficient to justifythe rejection of the whole if I shall find in each some ground for doubt. Nor for this20purpose will it be necessary even to deal with each belief individually, which would betruly an endless labor; but, as the removal from below of the foundation necessarilyinvolves the downfall of the whole edifice, I will at once approach the criticism of theprinciples on which all my former beliefs rested.3. All that I have, up to this moment, accepted as possessed of the highest truth and25certainty, I received either from or through the senses. I observed, however, that thesesometimes misled us; and it is the part of prudence not to place absolute confidence inthat by which we have even once been deceived.4. But it may be said, perhaps, that, although the senses occasionally mislead usrespecting minute objects, and such as are so far removed from us as to be beyond the30reach of close observation, there are yet many other of their informations (presentations),of the truth of which it is manifestly impossible to doubt; as for example, that Iam in this place, seated by the fire, clothed in a winter dressing gown, that I hold in myhands this piece of paper, with other intimations of the same nature. But how couldI deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with35persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by darkbilious vapors as to cause them pertinaciously to assert that they are monarchs whenthey are in the greatest poverty; or clothed [in gold] and purple when destitute of anycovering; or that their head is made of clay, their body of glass, or that they are gourds?I should certainly be not less insane than they, were I to regulate my procedure according40to examples so extravagant.
1. Descartes' overall attitude towards knowledge as presented in the passage is best described as
2. Descartes uses lines 6-11 to express why
3. As used in line 8, the word "advanced" most closely means
4. Descartes' minimal threshold for dismissing a knowledge claim is if it is
5. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
6. Lines 28-33 primarily illustrate Descartes' thinking about
7. The passage strongly implies that Descartes believes that the structure of knowledge is best described as
8. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
9. Descartes uses the phrase in lines 35-36, "so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors," to illustrate what he believes to be
10. As used in line 40, the word "extravagant" most closely means
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