René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes : A Dialogue Essay

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René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes: A Dialogue

As one embarks on the incredible journey through Descartes’ meditations, a plethora of doubts, criticisms and seemingly fundamental problems arise and block one’s progress. No doubt, many of these can be attributed to the fact that we of the twenty-first century come more than three and a half centuries after the brilliant mind of
Descartes (or shall we say, ‘that was Descartes’) spawned the immense framework of philosophy that is contained within The Meditations. Consequently, we are biased by more recent modes of thought that cannot address Cartesian issues at quite the same level, as would an approach more contemporary to Descartes. It is for this reason that criticisms or
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It is worthwhile to note that, at this point in the meditation, Descartes has already
stated the exact equality of all ideas insofar as their formal reality is concerned. In other words, all ideas exist on a basis of equality. The distinctions referred to; arise only when we consider the reality of the object or entity represented by those ideas, which, by definition, is nothing but the objective reality of the idea. He writes thus:
“Unquestionably, those ideas that display substances to me are something more and, if I may say so, contain within themselves more objective reality than those which represent only modes or accidents.”1 (p.68)
Here, Descartes attempts to create a system of classification based on the degree (or quantity) of objective reality possessed by various ideas. He maintains that substances
(which, he defines as merely those objects or entities that we can perceive) possess more
(objective) reality than do the modes of existence or accidents pertaining to those substances. Further, Descartes writes:
“Again, the idea that enables me to understand a supreme deity, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and creator of all things other than himself, clearly has more objective reality in it than do those ideas through which finite substances are displayed.”1 (p.68)
Here, he takes his reasoning one step further and judges the objective reality of ideas of infinite substances (e.g. God) to be more than that of ideas of finite

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