Concept of God According to Descartes

Topics: Soul, Immortality, God Pages: 11 (4140 words) Published: December 16, 2011
The concept of God according to Descartes and the so called antitheist position of Descartes Philomon Kani    René Descartes is often credited with being the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” This title is justified due both to his break with the traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy prevalent at his time and to his development and promotion of the new, mechanistic sciences. His fundamental break with Scholastic philosophy was twofold. First, Descartes thought that the Scholastics’ method was prone to doubt given their reliance on sensation as the source for all knowledge. Second, he wanted to replace their final causal model of scientific explanation with the more modern, mechanistic model. Descartes attempted to address the former issue via his method of doubt. His basic strategy was to consider false any belief that falls prey to even the slightest doubt. This “hyperbolic doubt” then serves to clear the way for what Descartes considers to be an unprejudiced search for the truth. This clearing of his previously held beliefs then puts him at an epistemological ground-zero. From here Descartes sets out to find something that lies beyond all doubt. He eventually discovers that “I exist” is impossible to doubt and is, therefore, absolutely certain. It is from this point that Descartes proceeds to demonstrate God’s existence and that God cannot be a deceiver. This, in turn, serves to fix the certainty of everything that is clearly and distinctly understood and provides the epistemological foundation Descartes set out to find.      

    Descartes was a rationalist philosopher. The rationalists wanted to prove everything by reason alone, because they thought that 'the senses' were unreliable. The difference between analytic statements or synthetic statements was not yet clear at that moment. We think that "God exists" can only be proven by using both senses and reason, but Descartes' 'proved' the existence of God with reason alone. At the outset of the Third Meditation, Descartes tried to use this first truth as the paradigm for his general account of the possibilities for achieving human knowledge. In the cogito, awareness of myself, of thinking, and of existence are somehow combined in such a way as to result in an intuitive grasp of a truth that cannot be doubted. Perhaps we can find in other cases the same grounds for indubitable truth. But what is it? The answer lies in Descartes's theory of ideas. Considered formally, as the content of my thinking activity, the ideas involved in the cogito are unusually clear and distinct. (Med. III) But ideas may also be considered objectively, as the mental representatives of things that really exist. According to a representative realist like Descartes, then, the connections among our ideas yield truth only when they correspond to the way the world really is. But it is not obvious that our clear and distinct ideas do correspond to the reality of things, since we suppose that there may be an omnipotent deceiver.     In some measure, the reliability of our ideas may depend on the source from which they are derived. Descartes held that there are only three possibilities: all of our ideas are either adventitious (entering the mind from the outside world) or factitious (manufactured by the mind itself) or innate (inscribed on the mind by God). (Med. III) But I don't yet know that there is an outside world, and I can imagine almost anything, so everything depends on whether God exists and deceives me. The next step in the pursuit of knowledge, then, is to prove that God does indeed exist. Descartes's starting point for such a proof is the principle that the cause of any idea must have at least as much reality as the content of the idea itself. But since my idea of God has an absolutely unlimited content, the cause of this idea must itself be infinite, and only the truly existing God is that. In other words, my idea of God cannot...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • nicholas wolterstorff concept of God Essay
  • Wisdom According to Rene' Descartes Essay
  • Descartes Belief in God Essay
  • Rene Descartes
  • Descartes: Reality and the Existence of God Essay
  • Descartes Argument of God Essay
  • Essay on Concept of God
  • Descartes Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free