Descartes Causal Proof Of The Existence Of God Analysis

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This essay will evaluate Descartes causal proof of the existence of God presented in Meditation 3. First, the essay will outline the proof itself. Then, by considering objections and subsequent responses, it will evaluate whether Descartes has been successful in his proof for the existence of God. This essay concludes that the objections are not overcome by Descartes and his argument fails
In previous Meditations, Descartes established the distinction between ideas and judgements. Ideas themselves cannot be true or false, whereas judgements can be mistaken and Descartes proposes the most common mistake is that I judge my ideas to resemble something in the external world. Furthermore, I know that I have a clear and distinct idea in myself of
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I can conjure the idea of God by simply thinking away my limitations. In other words, because I am the opposite of God, being finite and imperfect, perhaps I could be the cause of something ‘not imperfect’ and ‘not finite’. Descartes responds saying that this negative conception of infinity and perfection is not the idea of God – instead the idea of God requires a positive conception of these properties and not the absence of limits, but something for which there can be no limits. Nevertheless, this requirement conflicts with Descartes’ claim that as finite minds, we cannot form a clear idea of God’s infinity but also, whilst the idea of God is not clear, Descartes claims that it is clearly and distinctly a positive idea (not negative) – this seems very contradictory since an idea is not distinct unless it is clearly separated from all other ideas. Descartes must insist that the idea of God is positive as if it was negative, then it would become possible that we are the cause of God as we are finite beings. This objection is highly problematic because, on the one hand, Descartes must insist that the idea of God is positive as he cannot concede that we might be the cause of the idea – the whole point of his causal argument is to show that the cause of something must have as much reality as the effect. On the other hand, because we are only finite beings we …show more content…
We have ideas about things that don’t exist, like unicorns, thus the logic that the content of the idea must have as much reality as the thing itself would mean unicorns do exist. Instead, Descartes requires that the cause of an idea must at least have as much reality as the effect. However, it is not clear why the cause of an idea must be as real as the content of the idea as the content is just a representation thus something comparable shouldn’t have to exist in reality. Descartes claims that because God is infinite and perfect, then nothing could cause the idea of God except for God. However, our minds could have put together certain attributes to form the idea of God. For example, we have no evidence for the existence of a unicorn yet we can imagine a stallion, strong and white in colour. We can imagine a horn on its head, much like a rhino, but with the stallion’s elegance and multi-coloured like a rainbow. We have drawn from our surroundings and empirical truths to create a concept which we can all understand. In this same way, we could draw on knowledge, and imagine a being all-knowing. We could draw on love and imagine a being all-loving. By taking attributes that we have witnessed in our world we can imagine them more perfect and put them together to form the concept of

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