Descartes And The Existence Of God Once Descartes has realized that he can know with certainty that “I exist” is true, he continues to build on his foundation of truths.
The truth about the nature of God, proof of God’s existence, and the nature of corporeal objects are considered, among others, after Descartes proves his existence. Descartes’ principal task in the Meditations was to devise a system that would bring him to the truth. He wanted to build a foundation from which all further philosophical inquiry could be built. It was essential that his beliefs were sound.If any one of them were at all in doubt, then it put the credibility of the whole structure of knowledge in jeopardy. I will discuss a few of the topics Descartes analyzes after his epiphany of existence.
Throughout the essay, I will raise some doubts that I have pertaining to Descartes’ conclusions as well. In his second meditation, when Descartes pushes the method of doubt to its fullest extent, several truths survive; since these cannot be doubted Descartes must know them. The first of these is that “I exist.” The second truth, when Descartes asks “what am I?” caught my attention. I found it odd that he tests potential answers by asking whether he can doubt them.
The test appears strange because one’s ability to doubt something doesn’t normally show that it is false. If I can doubt that I have the hairiest legs at West Virginia University, does it follow that I do not? It is later when Descartes rephrases his answer, and so his question, in terms of “what is inseparable from my nature,” that I realized that the question was special. When he proceeds to say “I am now admitting nothing except what is necessarily true,” I finally saw that the apparently ordinary question was really a question about what is essential to my being what I am. To test what a characteristic’s being essential to some kind of thing is, I just have to consistently imagine the thing without that characteristic.
If I can coherently imagine a unicorn without a horn on its forehead, then having a horn would not be essential to being a unicorn; for if it were, I could not have imagined it. When Descartes claims to know “I am ..
only a thinking being,” what he says he knows is an abstract truth about his nature. And so this piece of knowledge is similar to almost all of the other things which he will subsequently find that it knows: it is a necessary truth regarding a certain kind of thing’s having a particular nature or essence. I do not find it plausible that propositions concerning my own mental state are incorrigible to me. I do believe, however, that it is possible to make mistakes about my own beliefs and desires. I might falsely believe that I like the taste of beer, when really I hate it, but pretend to everyone including myself that I like it, so I can be one of the crowd at a party.Another example would be if my roommate knew that her boyfriend was cheating on her after finding a bra in his bed but chose to ignore it, she somehow pretends to herself that he is faithful; but in fact she believes he might not be.
She believes he is faithful. He is not faithful. His faithfulness is not incorrigible.
Descartes’ realization that he exists also leads to his proof of how he is able to be certain about his conclusions. Descartes reflects on the arguments of the second meditation, and asks: what is it about the argument which made me so certain about it? He says that it is the clarity and distinctness of his perception of it.After coming to the conclusion of self-existence, Descartes examines the knowledge of corporeal things as opposed to knowledge of the mind. Suppose that I were to have knowledge about a material thing. As Descartes used wax as an example, it possesses various qualities and characteristics in its different states of matter. When solid, as Descartes illustrates, it has a particular shape, hard smooth texture, slightly sweet smell, and a sound from rapping on it; these seem to be properties that enable me to understand it distinctly.
As it is heated, these characteristics disappear, until it is in liquid form where its characteristics are completely different – but it still exists.We say that the same piece of wax is present throughout each of its stages of heating, but our senses are not dependable in such circumstances. Descartes concludes that knowledge of corporeal things is reached by means of the mind, not the senses. Also, since the mind is presupposed in any knowledge of corporeal things, then the mind is more easily known than corporeal things. He concludes that the concept of “body” is the concept of something essentially extended, with shape and size, capacity for change of shape and size, and that is all. This leads to his thoughts on the dualism of the mind and body.
Descartes takes the stance of a strong dualist or someone who believes that the mind and the body are not only separate, but competent of independent existence.For him, it is the mind/soul that exists through time and change. Hoping to discern the existence of anything else aside from himself, Descartes considers a variety of ideas he has within his mind and contemplates whether he could have conceived them himself or not. Predominantly he finds that he has the idea of a perfect being.
And upon further consideration, he feels that he could not have been the cause of this thought because it is impossible for an imperfect being to be the cause of the idea of a perfect being. Descartes is imperfect in that he is not all knowing (omniscient) or all powerful (omnipotent), and is most certainly mortal. Descartes says, “I have the idea of a perfect being, and that idea has to have a cause, and since I am imperfect, the idea has to have been originated from a perfect source or God.” In Descartes’ Cosmological Proof of God, I understand that the cause of an idea must have as much formal reality as the objective reality of the idea.
I also understand that the idea has infinite objective reality. However, I am not fully convinced that it is impossible for a mortal, finite person to take the idea of a finite being and continually think “upward,” forming the idea that there is a being that is supreme to themselves. Descartes’ epiphany of “I exist, I am” was the catalyst for the exploration of the issues he discusses in Meditations. Although I find problems in some instances of his reasoning, I realize that he has provided answers through his Method of Doubt that have endured the ages and allow us to continue to ponder their truth today. English Essays.