The Role of God in the Meditations
Descartes’ Meditations revolve around presenting the reader with arguments regarding existence. In his first meditation, he elucidates the idea that he was raised with numerous false beliefs, all of which he believes should be thrown out in order to reach a certain truth. A new foundation is brought about, as opposed to that of medieval times. The world that we apprehend through the sense, since senses lend themselves to doubt, is out of the window. The only things that seemingly do not lend themselves to uncertainty are the theoretical sciences, such as math. This is where the role of God comes into play, as he then steers towards the worst case scenario where God is a deceiver and all things, both practical and theoretical sciences, may be called to hesitation. Descartes wants to find something that cannot be called into doubt, and if he can, he has reached a new foundation. Descartes presents the possibility that he might be living a dream, but then realizes that there are such things as clear and distinct ideas. The one thing that Descartes cannot doubt is the fact that he doubts. Doubting is a form of thinking, thus he must be a thinking thing. Therefore, he must exist. This is the new foundation – “I think, therefore I am.” Everything else in his argument is based on the “I think,” but as a consequence, all the world consists of is Descartes’ mind and nothing else. This is a radical doubt. The new Cartesian foundation is not a metaphysical one, it is an epistemological one – the self, “I think.” Descartes has res cogitans – the idea that he is a thinking thing. He now brings about the criterion for truth, being that any clear and distinct idea is true. Sensing and imagining are forms of thinking, but unlike intellection or rational thought, they are confused forms of thinking, where intellect and rational are clear and distinct. The next thing he has to prove so he is not alone in the universe is God....
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