Descartes’ argument for the existence of God relies on the untenable notion of a substance of perfection and that it can be predicated of God. In this essay Descartes’ arguments for the existence of God will be briefly expounded, and then objections against his methodology employed in order to establish the proof of God, will be discussed.
2. Proof of God
God takes on a crucial place in Descartes’ philosophy. He was certain of his own finitude, but at the same time also aware of something infinite. There was for Descartes this confrontation between the finite imperfect mind and the sense of something beyond. Something infinite.
Descartes views himself as not having the capacity of perfection. Perfection is according to him an attribute, a feature of a being of true substance. A substance capable of not only having the power to create lesser substances, but also with the capacity of non-dependence on any other thing for its own existence (Cottingham, 2008:81).
Descartes deliberated that such a being would be of such constitution that it would possess attributes such as omnipotence, omniscient and benevolence. For Descartes there can exist only one such being and that is God, and this is what he stands to prove.
Descartes points out that in order for any effect to occur, its cause must own the effect itself, and this he calls “causality” (Tutorial for PLS3702, 2014:17)
In order to prove the existence of God, Descartes employs two arguments, the cosmological and ontological.
The cosmological argument makes inference from certain alleged facts about the world, (cosmos) about the existence of a unique and perfect being, God (Reichenbach, 2014:1). Descartes is aware of such a unique and perfect being, and this awareness he states, could only have been planted by such a unique being, thus by God himself.
His ontological argument follows the reasoning that God is by definition a supremely perfect being, the greatest of all beings. Such a being would by the mere fact of its supremacy, have existence as a property. God must therefore exist (Tutorial for PLS3702, 2014:17).
The method Descartes employs in order to prove the existence of God is very similar to the proof of St Anselm, in that he deduces the existence of God from internal logic. “God is that than which nothing greater can be thought” (Atkinson, 2011:80).
The validity of employing such methodology to determine existence of something is suspect, as it may fall prey to faulty logic.
His other assertion on “causality” where he states that the effect should have all its characteristics within its cause does not seem plausible. If this was...