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Descartes Proof Of God. This Examines Descartes' Argument For The Existence Of God.

1282 words - 5 pages

The intention of this paper will be to examine Descartes' argument for the existence of God. First, I will review Descartes' proof for the existence of God. Then, I will discuss some consequences that appear as a result of God's existence. Finally, I will point to some complications and problems that exist within the proof. Descartes' proof of the existence of God occurs in the Third Meditation. He builds his entire argument upon his proof in the previous meditation that in order for him to think, he must exist. From this single observation, Descartes notices that the idea of his existence is very clear and distinct in his mind; based upon this clarity and the fact that he has just determined his own existence, he deduces a rule--that the things that he sees as very clear and very distinct are all true. Descartes starts his proof by dividing "thought" into four categories--ideas (concepts), volitions (choices), emotions (desires), and judgments (beliefs). He then breaks down these categories to discover which type/s of thoughts can yield error. The first thing to realize is that there is no error in an idea. Error can occur only in the judgment of whether the idea is true or false. For example, I may have an idea of what it would be like to burn my finger, but that idea has no rightness or wrongness until I make a judgment as to whether I believe or disbelieve the idea. In other words, having an idea is one thing, but believing it is something different. Concerning emotions and volitions, these forms of thought do not give way to any error either since we can desire or choose anything and not find any error in the fact that I desire it or choose it. Next, Descartes discusses where ideas come from, namely, inside ourselves (innate or invented) and outside ourselves (adventitious). Innate, or inborn, ideas include "my understanding of what a thing is, what truth is, and what thought is" (38). These ideas are considered innate because the understanding seems to be resulting simply from my own nature. They are in no way derived. When my senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, etc.) come into play, I develop an idea adventitiously. For example, if I were sitting by a fire, I would feel the heat of the flames. Feeling or having the idea of the heat was not something I decided to do from within; therefore, it must have come from something other than myself (i.e. the fire). Last but not least, some ideas are made up in my own mind. For instance, I have developed an image of my grandfather who passed away long before I was born. I have never actually seen him, but I invented an idea of him. Descartes utilizes another rule in his thought process in addition to the one stated previously--objective reality cannot exist without formal reality. By this he means that an idea cannot originate without a cause. Formal reality is characteristic of things and ideas have formal reality because they are states of mind. Objective reality is when things or ideas are...

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