In Meditations on First Philosophy Descartes attempts to explain the cause of errors in human beings. Descartes says that error occurs “since the will extends further than the intellect” (Descartes p.39). That’s because our intellect is something that is finite; it is limited to the perception of only certain things. Whereas our will, ability to choose is not limited; it is has an infinite capacity. Therefore we sometimes attempt to will things which we do not have a complete understanding of. Descartes’ argument, as I will briefly describe, is quite sound, if you agree to all his conditions (being that the intellect is limited and the will infinite). I am not, as of yet, sure if I necessarily agree to the later of his two conditions. I
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The other, the will, in that it acts of itself, is only a utility of choice which alone cannot error. Therefore error and sin occur when both intellect and will work with each other. It is the disproportion between the limit of the will and the intellect that causes blunders. The will, as I’ve stated, is a limitless aspect of ourselves and therefore can pass judgment on any proposition brought forth. But the intellect can only clearly perceive and understand very few propositions. As Descartes says it is where I “extend it (the will) to things I do not understand” (Descartes p.39) that error is caused. That’s because one is, instead of acting indifferent, passing judgment on things that are not clear in the intellect. A person can easily then turn away from the good and truth given to our intellect by God and partake in sin and deceit (see Descartes p.39).
The finally area that Descartes adds is that in some instances a person can pass judgment on things that aren’t understood and not produce an error. In those cases the person has still acted in an incorrect manor, but it is just be chance that the correct choice, or judgment was made (see Descartes p.40). It is here that I have concluded Descartes’ argument and will now attempt to seek answers to my own questions: If the will is in fact as free as Descartes speaks? If