Descartes vs. Spinoza

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Term Paper, Philosophy 1107 Aaron Davis

Evaluation & Comparison Between Descartes and Spinoza

About The Paper:

What I will do in this following paper is to discuss two very interesting philosophers, Rene

Descartes and Benedictus de Spinoza. I will discuss each philosopher’s perspectives and insights

on their most recognized theories and thoughts. I will then evaluate them and then give my opinion

on the given topic. By doing this, I will contrast the similarities and differences between the two

genius minds. By the end of the paper I will have discarded some ideas and opinions from each of

the two and will have my own judgment that consists of thoughts from Spinoza, Descartes and my

self put together.

Themes On Descartes:
Existence of God-

Descartes’ View -

One of the most famous and debatable theories Descartes had was his proof of the

existence of God. He had for steps on the ladder to prove this. 1) Everything including our ideas

has a cause. 2) We have an idea of God. 3) Nothing less than God is adequate to be the cause of

our idea of God. An lastly 4) Therefore God exists.

My View -

Considering the fact that Descartes was a rationalist and a very religious man, you can see

why he would desperately try to make sense of everything, including God. I believe his proof that

he has laid out for us that God exists is false. What Descartes is trying to tell us is that our idea of

God comes directly from God himself and that we cannot create something in our minds that we

have not already witnessed by our senses. But I believe we can implant the idea of God in our

minds without God planting it for us. Since man has been on this planet, we have been evolving. I

believe our idea of God is a collection of thoughts and ideas that has evolved. Ideas such as

security, peace, direction, order, separating good and evil, questions to our existence, comfort,

space, answers to questions no one has. It is all these thoughts, ideas and more put together in our

minds overtime that create this all mighty powerful being who knows all and is all that we call

God.

The U-Turn-
Descartes’ View -

One of the aspects Descartes strived to find was “certainty”, searching for absolute

foundation. He felt in order to come across certainty; we must first doubt everything we know. To

help people comprehend his idea, he created the U-Turn as a visual reference to understand. As we

go down the “U” we first doubt common sense, then we doubt awake/sleep since he believes we

can’t distinguish the difference. We continue to go down the “U” by doubting mathematics

because there could be an “Evil Genius” that tricks us into believing something untrue. At the

bottom of this U we reach the point where nothing is certain except one thing according to

Descartes, which is our existence. He says “I think, therefore I am”, which means the only thing

we can be certain about is our own existence. He then stops and says if we exist, then there must

be a God, and this is where the U takes its turn and moves upwards. He then says if God exists he

would not deceive us because he is all loving and caring, therefore we have no reason to doubt

mathematics, followed by ourselves (body/mind) and lastly we can then be certain about the

physical world, no need to doubt it.

My View -

I find this to be an interesting concept that Descartes has formulated in his mind, one that is

most definitely worth thinking about and taking into consideration. But in my point of view, there

is a break in his chain. From the moment he mentions we doubt being awake and asleep is where I

think his U-Turn collapses. Descartes says we can not distinguish the difference between the two,

but that’s only true to a certain point. As humans we have logic, common sense and we are aware

of most of the knowledge we...
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