Descartes' Meditations

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Descartes' Meditations Descartes' meditations are created in pursuit of certainty, or true knowledge. He cannot assume that what he has learned is necessarily true, because he is unsure of the accuracy of its initial source. In order to purge himself of all information that is possibly wrong, he subjects his knowledge to methodic doubt. This results in a (theoretical) doubt of everything he knows. Anything, he reasons, that can sustain such serious doubt must be unquestionable truth, and knowledge can then be built from that base. Eventually, Descartes doubts everything. But by doubting, he must exist, hence his "Cogito ergo sum". It is from this thought that Descartes is able to determine God exists and create his first argument for this idea in the Third Meditation. He does this by beginning with the only thing he knows to be true: That, through doubt, he must exist. By knowing he doubts, he then knows that he doesn't know everything. This make him imperfect. But to know you are imperfect, Descartes reasons, must mean that you have a concept of perfection (Thomson 26). This allows him to verify how he has a rational idea of a prefect being, God. Knowing that he has an idea of perfection, Descartes continues to prove God's existence by assuming everything must have a cause. This is known as the Principal of Sufficient Reason. For Descartes, this principal allows the acceptance of another, called the Principal of Sufficient Reason. "There must beat least as much reality in the total efficient cause as in the effect" (Thomson 27). He gives an analogy of heat, and how heat cannot be produced in an object devoid of heat unless it is acted upon by something containing a greater amount of heat (Baird, Kaufmann... ... middle of paper ... ... the idea of God is innate. He does not recognize the fact that many cultures would consider the idea of multiple gods innate, nor does he give credence to the possibility that a sense of wonder is innate and is birthplace of the idea of God. The ontological argument for God also has merits that are invalid. One such is a point made by Kant, that the second portion of Descartes' proof is inaccurate because existence is not necessarily a property, as Descartes uses it as (Thomson 30). Another philosopher, Gassendi, said in his work Objections, "something which does not exist is neither perfect nor imperfect" (qtd Thomson 30). This would imply that existence is not perfection and God needn't exist. Kant also had misgivings about Descartes' definition of the concept of God as a means to prove his existence. To use a concept to prove itself real is irrational.

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