Wednesday, November 16, 2011

descartes proof of god

        In the Third Meditation, Descartes gives us the causal proof for god’s existence, but throughout the Meditations, Descartes has not put to rest the paradox of the concepts of error and god. If error exists (through humans) and humans are creature that god (the all good, all knowing creator) created, why then is there room for error? Firstly, Descartes clears up the idea of a deceptive god; god can not deceive us because every type of deception is an imperfection.  I personally believe that the term “imperfection” is ambiguous;  I think that the mind can conceptualize words like this in a relative way through negation. It is clear and distinct how god is perfect, and the opposite can be said from that. Descartes proves that the infinite, omni-benevolent idea of god is the root cause of his idea of god. Indeed, he seems to presuppose god’s existence to prove god’s existence, but he must to support the sufficient means law of all things. So, god, in all of its perfect-ness, gave humans their facilities and from our facilities we can makes misjudgments because we do not have all of the pieces needed to make the proper judgment. Error comes from the misuse of the perfect faculties that the perfect god gave us. There are two parts to judgment ; the faculties of intellect and will. Intellect serves as the ability to perceive to form ideas and make judgments on them. The ideas presented to the intellect are neither true nor false. The intellect serves a passive function as a warehouse of ideas of which we pull from to further qualify other ideas. The second perfect faculty god gave humans was will. Will only affirms or denies ideas presented by the intellect. The ideas presented can be a mix of new information and ideas from the warehouse of intellect, ready to be iterated with the new ideas and for the will to choose to affirm or deny the new idea. If the intellect is presented with ideas which are already misjudged by the will, or are not presented in their entirety, the will can misjudge them. This is not god’s fault; god is perfect and bestowed onto us perfect faculties, it is my incorrect use of my free will that causes error. “…extends in general to every case where the intellect does not have sufficiently clear knowledge at the time when the will deliberates.” In the last paragraphs of the Fourth Meditation, Descartes further substantiates god’s perfect-ness and why that leaves him null of responsibility for error, although he created humans with free will, which can lead to error. Descartes says that god gave him the ability to agree or disagree with ideas, presented to his intellect, and when he chooses to agree with something when he does not have the clear and distinct knowledge of truth, is an imperfection in him and a misuse of those perfect faculties. He prescribes man a method to always avoid error from this logic: restrain your will to only pass judgment on ideas that are extended to the intellect with the clear and distinct quality, since everything with that amount of clarity is something (not nothing) and everything with thing-ness came from god.


  1. Much as I love the ultimate Descartes one liner ("Je pense, donc je suis."), I find it best to take everything he wrote with a grain of salt.

    After all, his "research" to determine that animals are unthinking automatons was to cut them open and essentially torture them to find proof of a soul.

    For treatises on the nature of God, I much prefer Spinoza.

  2. Spinoza was brilliant as well, however, his nature is god argument looks a lot like 1=1. Or, it exists, so it exists with certainty. I wonder if Spinoza would've held the same beliefs if Descartes hadn't published his views...
    Perhaps I will write about my understanding of Cogito Ergo Sum next :