Gassendi vs Descartes

Gassendi vs Descartes - Scott Welch 4 December 2005...

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Scott Welch 4 December 2005 Descartes Dr. Kinlaw Gassendi’s Argument on Descartes Meditation # 3 In response to Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy , Pierre Gassendi attempts to invalidate Descartes’ method of proving the existence of God. Gassendi presents ten separate arguments to assist in his disproving Descartes method. These arguments are based on his belief Descartes uses confused positions as his foundations for the proof of God, he also believes Descartes uses wordy premises that only circle his conclusion not prove it. Descartes in rebuttal argues his premises do in fact support his conclusion and Gassendi is too critical in his over analyzing the premises. This paper will take a closer look at the third meditation, and then it will delve deeper into the exchange between the two men. In the end, this paper will confirm Descartes’ method for proving the existence of God is in fact necessary given the fundamental arguments he uses to build this conclusion. Descartes sub-titles the Third Meditation, “The existence of God.” Knowing the purpose of his work here is very important, the title is a simply a precursor to his explanation on the Third Meditation. Descartes works through 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. The first notable line is when Descartes says, “I am certain that I am a thinking thing.” He carefully uses this discovery to set up his next rule, “So I now seem
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to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.” These two quotes set up the remainder of his argument, which as anticipated, ends with the 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 dissect 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 Meditation was surprisingly pungent and well presented. A study of the exchange between the two philosophers is offered below with Gassendi’s objections presented first and 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 this rule 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
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Gassendi vs Descartes - Scott Welch 4 December 2005...

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