Critically examine one of Descartes' arguments for the existence of God
Critically examine one of Descartes ' arguments for the existence of God
Descartes ' Meditation III provides a causal and cosmological argument that God exists. Having used the Method of Doubt in Meditations I and II in order to reject his false beliefs, Descartes assumes that the only things he knows at this point are the conclusions reached at Meditations I and II. Having also doubted judgements in arithmetic and geometry because of the possibility of the existence of an evil demon, Descartes wishes to find out if there is a God, and if so, is this God deceitful? If He is good, then it would follow that mathematics and simple natures could be reinstated. In order to disprove the evil demon hypothesis, Descartes examines the different degrees of reality in things in comparison to God. Descartes ' idea of God is of an infinite substance. The idea of infinite substances cannot be caused by a finite substance, but only by another infinite substance, such as God himself. Therefore Descartes concludes that God as an infinite substance exists. Several criticisms can be made concerning Meditation III. It is arguable that Descartes ' causal proof does not leave room for simple religious faith. There are also other flaws in his proof of the existence of God, which will be discussed later in this essay.
Descartes opens Meditation III by reminding himself that he is subject to a very confining perspective because the Method of Doubt is still in force: In order to try to extend my knowledge further, I shall now look around more carefully and see whether I cannot still discover in myself some other things which I have not hitherto perceived.1
1. René Descartes, Key Philosophical Writings, ed. Enrique Chávez-Arvizo (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1997), p. 148. All further references are to this edition and are given in the text.
Descartes asserts that became certain that he is a thinking being via a
Bibliography: Primary Text: Descartes, René, Key Philosophical Writings, ed. Enrique Chávez-Arvizo (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1997), pp.134-162