The Cartesian Errors Essay

4374 words - 17 pages

The Cartesian Errors All quotes come from Rene Descartes: Discourse on method and meditations on first philosophy I will show that in Meditations, Descartes made a few errors on his ideas of existence.(1) Descartes proclaims things, i.e. God, exist from what he assumes to be true of these things if these things did indeed exist.Descartes writes, " I understand by the name of "˜God' a certain substance that is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent and supremely powerful"¦indeed all these things are such that"¦I must conclude that God necessarily exists." (p.76). If this is a logical argument for the existence of something I could just as easily say, " I understand by the name of "˜Chimera' a certain substance that is fire breathing, and with a body consisting of the head of a lion and the body of a she-goat and the tail of a serpent, which lived in Lycia and was killed by the Greek, Belleraphon." In said argument I am able to tell of Chimera's location, appearance, and about it's death. While this comparison of arguments may seem odd, my point is you can not take something you've decided to consider as non-existing and prove it's existence by telling about it's attributes or even it's appearance because logically none of these exist either. Descartes later states, ""¦ I judge God to be actually infinite so that nothing can be added to His perfection." (p.77). Again he judges what God is, while for his causes God doesn't, for the time, exist. How is it one can judge or give attributes to something without already establishing its existence? Quite simply, you can't.(2) Descartes never truly renounces his belief of God and all he assumes he knows.Here he becomes very contradictory. He says " And just as one may imagine a winged horse, without there being a horse that has wings"¦ perhaps I can attach existence to God even though no God exist."(p.89). Yet later he says " But from the fact that I cannot think of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God, and that for this reason he really exists." (p.89). By stating in this "argument" that he can not think of God except as existing he proves my point about his lack of conviction in his razing of his beliefs. What he has done here is take a personal belief and made it a universal truth. I believe Descartes thinks too highly of his own abilities and place in the world. I'll give an example that I hope will prove, or at least help, my point. Not too long ago the entire known world could not think of the world as anything but flat. Well now we know better, that "fact" has been proven wrong. So for Descartes to believe that what he "knows" of God's attributes makes them fact is asinine and in fact laughable.Many times Descartes speaks of God's act of creating him as a way of proving God's existence, but if something's existence is uncertain how is it this thing could create anything...

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