An Analysis Of Descartes Argument For The Existence Of God

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In the Third Meditation, Descartes provides an argument for the existence of God that has been a great source of discussion and debate since. With the Meditations, Descartes attempted to deconstruct and destroy all of his beliefs and all foundations of knowledge in order to accomplish two aims: to provide a sound basis for scientific method and to prove the compatibility between science and religion. With the Meditations, Descartes was determined to figure out what he knew with certainty and did this by using doubt as a method. Anything that could be doubted he deemed untrustworthy and ultimately realized the only thing he could know is that he existed as it would be impossible to even doubt one’s existence without existing in the first place. …show more content…
First, we must acknowledge axioms, defined as irreducible primaries, for Descartes’ arguments. These include that something can never arise from nothing, perfection cannot arise from something imperfect and that there is as much reality in an effect as in a cause. The premises in the Third Meditation III can be outlined as follows:
P1: God is the greatest possible being that can be imagined.
P2: God exists as an idea in the mind and humans can have a clear idea of God (infinite, independent, omniscient, omnipotent,
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Its cause must be God, as there is no greater being than the greatest possible being. Therefore, God exists.
Technically this argument is valid but to be sound the premises must be true. Descartes’ argument has been analyzed and debated by other philosophers and the Meditations include objections. For the purpose of evaluating Descartes’ argument I will be using the simplified version with premise 1, 2 and a conclusion.
The first objections I will discuss come from Hobbes, who argues that premise 1 is fallacious. Hobbes argues that some thoughts are mere images of things based on real life observations and that these images are ideas. Since there is nothing in real life to represent God and no images or pictures to use as a reference, we cannot have a true idea of God. Descartes replies by arguing that by referring to an idea of God, he means what is perceived in the mind and that he uses the term idea because it is used in philosophy to reference perceptions in the mind (Third Objections: CSM II 126-7). Descartes argues that Hobbes should provide his own idea of God and that he is only using the term idea in a manner that suits his argument, which is a __ fallacy. Though I believe Descartes response to Hobbes here is valid, I still find premise 1 questionable because it assumes that all humans have the same specific ideas about God, which may not be true especially considering Descartes does not provide

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