Descartes vs St Augustine

Topics: Metaphysics, Love, God Pages: 8 (3041 words) Published: December 8, 2002
Ben Blair
World of the Ideas

To examine life, you must first determine existence
. I will attempt to determine if their really is existence
and then examine two of the most impostant factors in peoples lives; love and religion. Everyone has tried to come to a conclusion on what is love and whether their is a God and people have dedicated their lives to both of these subjects Their are an infinite number of ways of examining love and religion but none of them can be taken as fact and none of them can be guaranteed as false. In this paper, I will examine the ways that Rene Descartes and Saint Augustine examine their lives and what they feel makes their life worth living.

In the Meditations, Descartes attempts to doubt everything that is possible to doubt. He is uncertain of the existence of many things from God and himself. Then he goes on to start proving that things do exist by first proving that he exists. After he establishes himself he can go on to establish everything else in the world. Next he goes to prove that the mind is separate then the body. In order to do this he must first prove he has a mind, and then prove that bodily things exist. I do agree with Descartes that the mind is separate from the body. These are the arguments that I agree with Descartes.

In his six Meditations, only four contain his argument about corporeal things and establishing himself as a thinking creation. Meditations three and four discuss the existence of God and the matter of true and false. Concerning Meditation three, Descartes proves God's existence and that He is not a deceiver, thereby allowing us to be sure that we are not deceived when we perceive things clearly and distinctly. The rest of the Meditations deal with him proving himself as a thinking thing and proving that the mind is separate from the body. In Descartes' first meditation, he goes on to prove that nothing exists. He establishes that knowledge is built upon a foundation; each piece of knowledge rests upon some other part of knowledge. Over the course of ones life, a person establishes one piece of knowledge and builds upon that. Descartes goes on to doubt every particular set of knowledge he has.

Descartes says that the most basic set of knowledge we have is our senses. He continues that the senses give us false information. For example, when we look at the sun, we cannot tell how big it is. The same is true for dreams. Senses appear to be real in dreams, but how can one tell whether or not we are dreaming or not. So if we can never determine we are dreaming or awake then we can't rely on our senses.

He believes that a supreme God has created us and has the power to deceive us. If God is perfect then he cannot deceive us. So we must assume that an evil demon is the source of our deceptions. Therefore Descartes has reason to deny the validity of his senses. From this, Descartes assumes if there is a deceiver and he can be deceived then he must exist. In general it will follow from any state of thinking, whether it be imagining, sensing, feeling, or reasoning, that he exists. Since he can only be certain of the existence of himself insofar as he is a thinking thing, then he has knowledge of his existence of only a thinking thing.

After he has established himself as a thinking creation, he then goes on to argue that the mind is more certainly known then the body. He goes on to say that it is possible that all knowledge of external objects, including his body, could be false as the result of the actions of an evil demon. It is not, however, possible that he could be deceived about his existence or his nature as a thinking thing. This is true because if he can be deceived about anything, then he can be certain, as he is a thinking thing. Even corporeal objects, such as his body, are known much more distinctly through the mind than through the body.

It seems that Descartes finds it necessary to first establish the existence of a...
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