Descartes and Meditation Three Essay

Descartes and Meditation Three Essay

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Descartes and Meditation Three


At the beginning of Meditation three, Descartes has made substantial progress towards defeating skepticism. Using his methods of Doubt and Analysis he has systematically examined all his beliefs and set aside those which he could call into doubt until he reached three beliefs which he could not possibly doubt. First, that the evil genius seeking to deceive him could not deceive him into thinking that he did not exist when in fact he did exist. Second, that his essence is to be a thinking thing. Third, the essence of matter is to be flexible, changeable and extended.
The next very important step for Descartes is to establish a criterion of certainty. By examining the truths which he discovered in the course of his second meditation, he decides that all of them have in common the properties of being clear and distinct. Descartes says, “So, I now seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.” Descartes adds another item to the list of things which he knows clearly and distinctly---ideas.
At this point Descartes has yet to completely remove the hyperbolic doubt. How is it that Descartes can remove what seems to be an un-removeable doubt? His answer---he is going to prove that God exists and that God is not a deceiver. In other words, in order to get rid of the evil genius, Descartes must show that such a being could not exist. The only way to do this effectively, holds Descartes, is to prove that another being, namely a God who is not a deceiver, does exist. If such a God exists, then an omnipotent Evil Genius is not possible.
How is it that Descartes goes about proving that God exists? His means are limited. He...


... middle of paper ...


...t length about how it is possible that we imagine things and ‘create’ things in our mind. Descartes sees imagination as a recombination of prior experiences but is it not possible that we can imagine something that we have not previously experienced? I can imagine an alien creature which I have never experienced through any medium, be it literature, film or comic, that is in no way a recombination of such prior experiences. Can not God be such an imagination? Even when I do imagine God there is no strict correlation between that objective reality and any formal reality involving God. If God did exist it would seem that he would not have formal reality because, due to his infinite nature, he would transcend such a reality. God’s domain would be the objective where infinitude is a likely possibility not the formal where infinitude is a definite impossibility.

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