Descartes de facto - Within Meditations on First Philosophy...

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Within Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes there exists a rather abstract but exceedingly logical progression from absolute ignorance to the attainment of some absolute truth. Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum and its indubitable nature are arrived at through a stunning yet logical proof. However, the remaining proofs within Descartes’ six meditations are neither as logically sound nor as persuasive as the C ogito . The third meditation searches for a proof for the existence of an infinite being, without which, no more than the Cogito would be beyond doubt. The two proofs Descartes contrives are logically flawed. I intend to prove to you that the existence of God is not made necessary through Descartes’ creative yet imperfect proofs. At the beginning of the third meditation, shortly after discovering the necessity of his own existence, Descartes attempts to further his absolute knowledge by proving the existence of an infinite being. He analyzes the realization that his previous idea, Cogito ergo sum , is very clear and distinct within his mind. Based on this foundation, Descartes forms an absolute rule: Anything that he perceives both clearly and distinctly must be true. Following this, Descartes divides thoughts into categories. Ideas – thoughts that contain substance (One has an idea of X, one cannot simply have an idea. Even an idea of nothing is an idea of something) – are unique and are put into one category (Descartes 26). The other thoughts, such as volitions and judgments, are placed in another category. Before furthering his analysis of ideas, Descartes examines the different types of thoughts and concludes that only judgments can be false; an idea is still an idea no matter the substance; a volition is still a volition no matter what it is based on (25-26). Descartes then turns to the concept of ideas. He first classifies these ideas into two concepts. The first, ideas “taught by nature,” includes all ideas that are arrived at
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though conclusions and assumptions based on a posteriori knowledge. The second, ideas shown by the “light of nature,” includes ideas that cannot be logically doubted, such as “I think therefore I am,” (26). Following this classification of ideas is Descartes’ introduction to objective and formal reality. Descartes refers to objective reality as a reality based on the existence of thought, or within thought. A thing with only objective reality ceases to exist if there is no thinker to think of it. It is dependent. Formal reality, alternately, is the reality that exists independently of a thought or one who thinks. Descartes uses an idea granted to him by the “light of nature” to conclude the following: Now it is indeed evident by the light of nature that there must be at least as much [reality] in the efficient and total cause as there is in the effect of that same cause. For whence, I ask, could an effect get its reality, if not from its cause? (28) Descartes is essentially stating that what is caused can be no more real than its cause. Similarly, if one creates a paper crane from a sheet of paper, you get a paper crane, not
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2008 for the course PHIL 120 taught by Professor Jenkins during the Fall '04 term at University of Saskatchewan- Management Area.

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Descartes de facto - Within Meditations on First Philosophy...

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