I Fear I Am Descartes’ Evil Genie

Descartes had a fear that an evil genius was making him have false beliefs. Unlike ancient skeptics he thought he could at least be sure he had experiences. The Evil Genie could not take that away from him. Our 21 c. version of Descartes’ worry is the fear that we are brains in a vat, or are living in The Matrix. Maybe the world is not what we think it is.

I worry that I am Descartes’ evil genie in relation to my children, to people who trust me, ultimately to my self. If I don’t know, aren’t I perpetuating a ruse? And upon the most innocent? And those who I love the most?

On the other hand, you could imagine an opposite to the Evil Genie — a being that made somebody anxious about what he could in fact rely upon. A man is rushing taking water to a burning building and the Evil Genie gives him the notion that the water is an illusion. He stops and considers and the building burns to the ground.

I don’t want to be that kind of Evil Genie for my children! Or for myself.

On the other hand if I were a happy NAZI and was raising my children to put out the fire which was UNDER-PEOPLE CHIPPING AWAY AT THE GLORIOUS GERMAN NATION — I would surely hope that some genius, good, bad or indifferent, would introduce some skepticism into my head, and that if my children were NAZIS I could perform that office for them.

One wants to have anxiety about precisely those things that are worth having anxiety about, and be in a state of happy faith about those that things that is important to move forward on in trust.

Luckily I have found an ap that for a small monthly fee, deducted directly from my credit card, lets me know precisely when my doubts are founded and when they are not, and whether global skepticism is a)coherent b)true c)worth indulging in. Sadly, I asked it to evaluate whether i could trust the ap itself and suddenly my roaming data charges went through the roof, sending me into penury.


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