Descartes and God
In his groundbreaking work, Meditations on First Philosophy, the French philosopher Rene Descartes lays the groundwork for many philosophical principles by attempting to “establish a bold and lasting knowledge” (171)1. The foundations for knowledge Descartes established would go on to influence a plethora of other philosophers and philosophical works. Descartes argues in his meditations first from the point of view of complete skepticism, using skepticism as a tool in order to discover what is real. Through this method, Descartes explains the existence of man as a “thinking thing,” the capacity for human error, the overall trustworthiness of our senses, the existence of a physical world, the mind and body as separate entities, and the existence of an infinitely perfect God. Descartes uses a variety of premises to help back up his idea of a prefect God. The main idea concluded from these premises is that man alone could not have come up with the idea of infinite perfection, so the idea of God comes from God himself, thus proving his existence. Although his argument for the existence of God is the least strong of his philosophical arguments, I agree with Descartes because humans alone could not grasp the idea of infinity or an infinitely perfect being. I intend examine and defend Descartes’ explanation of the existence of God, propose valid counter-arguments and my own answers to those objections. Descartes uses the entire third and most of the fifth meditations of Meditations on First Philosophy to delve into his idea of and explanation of existence of God. From his point of view of skepticism earlier in the meditations, Descartes examined the possible existence of God as a supreme “evil demon” bent on deceiving humanity and causing mankind to err. Descartes drifts away from this idea and defines his idea of God as “eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and the creator of all things” (178). Descartes then uses several different premises...
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