In the fifth Meditation, Descartes presents his second argument for the existence of God. Descartes holds that existence is perfection and so, it can be a predicate for God. I will first explain what is the ontological argument for the existence of God. Next, I will discuss why Descartes decides to bring God into His method of philosophy. I will then try to argue that existence is a perfection and that as a predicate for God, existence reveal certain true about God.
Ontological argument tries to prove the existence of God from a priori perspective, i.e., idea implanted in the human mind by God himself. The argument therefore depends on analytic reasoning, from premise to conclusion. Descartes believes that he has an inborn idea which he calls “innate” (p. 43). His ability to think did not cause the idea on his mind, but God’s free will to act. Thereby, as the idea manifest itself to his mind intuitively; it reveals something about its author. The idea allows Descartes to think of a perfect being who must necessarily exist, namely God.
In his epistemological quest for truth, through thought experiment, Descartes’ Meditations offers the reader a method of doubt that could be used in order to discover what is absolutely certain, and free oneself from the errors caused by misjudgments. Descartes’ purpose is to find indubitable truth. He makes used of the method of hyperbolic doubt in order to establish an absolute and convincing foundation of truth. He discovers that sense experience can be put to doubt, but Descartes cannot doubt that he actually doubts. Furthermore, he fears deception about everything. However, he cannot be deceived about his own existence since to be deceived, one must first exist. “I think, therefore I am”. It is here where Descartes’ epistemological quest for truth finds ground in order to build up the rest of his philosophy. Thus, having proven his own existence beyond doubt, Descartes can now proceed to discover other clear and distinct truth, i.e., God.
After Descartes proves his very existence out of the shadow of a doubt, he must now find a perfect and all-knowing God in order to escape the evil genius. For Descartes, sensory experience are all doubtful and thus, he would consider them to be false for nothing truth can be deduced from sensory experience up to this point of the meditations (Beardsley p.33). As long as the deceiver is in place, his quest for an epistemological guarantor will persist. Thereby, the existence of an all-perfect non-deceiving God is necessary for Descartes to be certain about clear and distinct ideas. Descartes seeks to prove the existence of God and as we already know, part of his idea of God is an absolutely perfect being, then according to Descartes, conceiving this idea of God is almost the same thing as conceiving that God actually exists. Therefore, Descartes must then proceed to prove the existence of such a perfect God.
In his mind, Descartes conceives different ideas...