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René Descartes' Argument on the Existence of God Essay

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René Descartes' Argument on the Existence of God


The problem with René Descartes' argument about the existence of God has to do with his rationalist deductive reasoning. Descartes deduces that truth about the existence of God lies within his idea of a perfect God and God's essence (as a perfect being who must exist in order to be perfect). A rationalist philosopher, Descartes discounts human knowledge as a product of our sensory data (our senses) but supports the epistemological stance that our knowledge is obtained through the reasoning processes of our own minds. Because Descartes believes deductive inference is the only path to absolute certainty, he endeavors to use logical arguments and principles (a mathematically natured process of reasoning) to validate the existence of God. But how can principles of logic be used to prove the existence of God? Descartes' attempts to stay deductive when attempting to prove the existence of God are indeed laudable, but some of his arguments are lacking. In proving the existence of God, his two main arguments are as follows: the idea of a perfect, infinite being in his own head could only have been created by God Himself, and God's existence cannot be separated from His essence .

Descartes must first prove that he exists. He writes, ?For example, during these few days I was examining whether anything in the world exists, and I noticed that, from the very fact that I was making this examination, it obviously followed that I exist? (84). Essentially, a being can be certain of its existence if it can think. Descartes also adds that ideas (thoughts, imagination, etc.) are objectively real: ?For whether it is a she-goat or a chimera that I am imagining, it is no less true that I imagine ...


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...ply does not stand. Descartes loses his grasp on certainty by failing to prove God's perfection and that God was the only creator of his idea of perfection. By unsuccessfully proving the existence of God through pure deductive reasoning, Descartes' system may sadly be forever doomed to uncertainty in this particular endeavor. And because Descartes' project of certainty about the existence of God was unsuccessful, the same would follow for his deductions about the sense world. But there is always hope. Perhaps the existence of God was never meant to be proved through deductive reasoning and logic. There is always something to be said about believing in the existence God with nothing more than pure faith.

Work Cited

Descartes, René. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy . Trans. Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998.


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