Rene Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy Characters

Rene Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy Character List

The Narrator (René Descartes)

This nonfiction philosophical work is essentially an internal, meditative monologue from the first-person perspective of the narrator, Rene Descartes. In this relatively short work, he decides that he senses cannot be trusted, and that he will build the world of certainty up from the ground level, discovering what is really true and what is an illusion. The narrator is a contemplative, intellectually honest man with a strong belief in both himself and God, but little else, falling much more in line with Plato's line of thinking than that of Aristotle, who was more prevalent among Descartes's contemporaries.


God Himself never appears in this set of soliloquies, but Descartes reasons himself into believing in His existence. Using purely his rationality, Descartes arrives at the conclusion that God exists because of the perfection innate in the concept of a God, denoting underlying values and understandings in Descartes's mind that he is too weak and imperfect to originate. God is a powerful, loving, authoritative entity, and one that exists outside of nature, which is a necessity for Descartes.

Hopeful and Doubtful

In some editions of Meditations on First Philosophy, the translator and/or editor inserts personalities into the first meditation of the six, drama-esque figures who alternate speaking paragraphs of Descartes's musings. These characters, Hopeful and Doubtful, don't actually exist in Descartes's writing, but their insertion makes his self-contradictory ramblings seem more comprehensible to the average English reader. Hopeful, obviously, represents the side of Descartes that rejects complete skepticism and chooses to believe in something true, while Doubtful continually mocks Hopeful's optimism, supporting a more cynical, reductionistic and nihilistic worldview.

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