GassendivsDescartes

GassendivsDescartes - The Exchange of Minds: Gassendi...

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The Exchange of Minds: Gassendi Versus Descartes on the Third Meditation Scott Welch Study on Descartes Dr. Jeffrey Kinlaw December 4, 2005
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Welch In response to Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, Pierre Gassendi attempts to invalidate Descartes’ method of proving Gods existence. Gassendi presents ten arguments to disprove Descartes method. These arguments are based on his belief Descartes uses confused and wordy premises that only circle his conclusion not prove it. Descartes in rebuttal argues the premises do in fact support the conclusion and Gassendi is too critical and over analyzes the premises. This paper will take a closer look at the Third Meditation, it will then delve deeper into the exchange between the two men and in the end, it will confirm Descartes’ method for proving the existence of God is in fact necessary given the fundamental lines of reasoning he uses to build this conclusion. Descartes sub-titles the Third Meditation, “The existence of God.” This title is a precursor to the work he will put forth on the Third Meditation. Descartes advances to the conclusion of the meditation with distinct accounts as to why God must in fact exist. Some specific lines occur in the opening paragraphs that set the mood for the remainder of the Third Meditation. One such notable line is when Descartes writes, “I am certain that I am a thinking thing.” With this noted he enables himself to set up this next statement, “So I now seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.” With these two rules in place, the remainder of his argument is presented. As anticipated, it ends with proof of God’s existence and his “good” nature (can not be a deceiver). It is the foundation for this argument as well as the proofs Descartes uses to reach this conclusion, which causes Gassendi to challenge the Meditations in his letter of objections. In the letter to Descartes, Gassendi analyzes the Meditations in depth and with great acuity. He remarks on each meditation separately and the section on the Third 2
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Welch Meditation was surprisingly pungent and well presented. A study of the exchange between the two philosophers is offered below in sequence Gassendi’s objections are presented first with Descartes replies following. The first point in which Gassendi objects to the Third Meditation is Descartes use of the statement, “whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.” He objects to the statement by suggesting it does not reduce the possibility of error in knowing the truth. He pleads his case here on the knowledge of skeptics and how they would remark, the only thing one can see clearly and distinctly is the thing one wishes to see clearly and distinctly. Gassendi uses the metaphor of a melon and how it tastes. He states that he may clearly and distinctly perceive its taste one way, yet another person (or even himself at a younger age) could quite possibly perceive this taste another way. Although Gassendi
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PHIL taught by Professor Kinlaw during the Fall '05 term at McMurry.

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GassendivsDescartes - The Exchange of Minds: Gassendi...

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