Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '09) - class#8

Introduction to Philosophy (Fall '09) - class#8 -...

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Unformatted text preview: Organizational Information First graded assignment will be handed out in First discussion section this Friday (10/2) and will be due in discussion section the following Friday (10/9). (10/9). Meditations on First Philosophy - Meditation 6 Meditations Bartlett 65. Bartlett Reading for next time: Rene Descartes’s Reading Midterm Exam October 22nd at 7pm - 9pm in Midterm There will be no class the during the day on the There day of the midterm. Descartes Review From Last Time In Meditation #3 Descartes argues for the In existence of God. existence His argument for the existence of God is a His crucial part of his skeptical project: if he can’t prove that there is an all-perfect God, then he can’t be sure that there isn’t an all-powerful deceiver deceiving him in believing almost everything he believes. everything His main argument for the existence of God: The His Trademark Argument Trademark The Trademark Argument has three sub-arguments as The parts. parts. Descartes, it is alleged, argued in a circle in offering Descartes, the Trademark Argument the The Cartesian Circle The Cosmological Argument Review From Last Time In Meditation #4 Descartes confronts the In problem of error: problem Given that he takes himself to have shown Given not only that he exists and is a thinking thing, but also that there exists an allthing, perfect God, the question arises: How could a perfect God allow him How to fall into error about anything? to Review From Last Time (1) Descartes makes three stabs at an explanation God’s ways are inexplicable to him, so he can’t God’s presume to know why God allows him to make mistakes. mistakes. It may be that though God is perfect and his It creation is perfect, it is only perfect as a whole, and Descartes’s making mistakes is part of a greater whole that is somehow perfect in virtue of that. whole (1) The problem with these two explanations: They both seem to undermine his previous They argument that he can be certain of anything that he vividly and clearly perceives to be true. he Review From Last Time Which leaves the third explanation: (3) Whenever he falls into error he is to blame and not God because he chooses to judge something to be true when he does not have sufficient understanding to be warranted in believing it to be true. Review From Last Time According to Descartes, though our intellect is According limited, our will is not. limited, His intellect is limited in that there are many ideas His that he simply does not have: that Unlike our intellect, Descartes claims, our will Unlike is not limited. is Though there are many things that I can’t actually Though do, there is nothing I can’t will to do. do, In this one respect, Descartes maintains, one of In my faculties--my faculty of willing--is just as great as God’s. as Review From Last Time So how does this explain how we sometimes So make mistakes? make Since the will is capable of affirming or denying Since anything, a person can sometimes choose to anything person affirm something that her understanding does not fully understand. fully Descartes is a belief voluntarist, i.e., one who thinks Descartes belief i.e., that what we believe is a matter of our choosing to believe it. believe And how, according to Descartes, can we be And assured of never making mistakes? assured We should only ever believe something if we We perceive, via our understanding, it vividly and clearly. clearly. Review From Last Time But one last question: Why doesn’t God prevent me from straying Why into error by giving me a vivid and clear perception about everything I was every likely to think about? To this question, Descartes simply punts To and reverts to a version of his second explanation of his making mistakes-explanation namely, that maybe his making mistakes namely, plays an important part in the perfection of all of God’s creation. all Meditation 4 At the end of this meditation, Descartes takes At himself to have found the way to arrive at truth about himself and the world around him. truth avoid error but also how to arrive at the truth. It is beyond question that I shall reach the shall truth it I think hard enough about the things that I perfectly understand, keeping them separate from all other matters in which my thoughts are more confused and obscure.” “So today I have learned not only how to So Meditation 5 (1) Descartes’s goals in Meditation 5 are: To lay out what he can know for To certain about the nature of material things, and…. things, Offer another argument for the Offer another existence of God. existence (1) Meditation 5 “Now that I have seen how to reach the truth--what to do Now and what to avoid--I must try to escape from the doubts that beset me a few days ago and see whether anything can be known for certain about material objects. can Before enquiring into whether there are any such things, I Before should consider the ideas of them in my thought, in order ideas to see which of those ideas are distinct and which confused…. confused…. Size, shape, position and so on are well known and Size, transparent to me as general kinds of phenomenon, but general there are also countless particular facts involving them particular that I perceive when I attend to them. The truths about all these matters are so open to me, and so much in harmony with my nature, that when I first discover any of them it feels less like learning something new than like remembering something I had known before, or noticing for the first time something athat was already in my mind without having turned my mental gaze onto it.” without Meditation 5 For Descartes, the essence of material For objects are their geometrical / mathematical / quantitative properties. quantitative “[E]ven back in the times when the objects of [E]ven the senses held my attention, I regarded the clearly apprehended propositions of pure mathematics--including arithmetic and geometry--as the most certain of all.” geometry--as Meditation 5 Next Descartes turns to the task of Next offering yet another argument for the yet existence of God: existence This argument is a version/variant of the This traditional Ontological Argument for the existence of God. existence It dates back to St. Anselm (11th century) Meditation 5 “The preceding two paragraphs lead to this The conclusion: The mere fact that I find in my thought an idea of something, x, and vividly and clearly perceive x to have a certain property, it follows that x really does have that property. Can I not turn this to account in a second argument to prove the existence of God? The idea of God (that is, of a supremely perfect being) is certainly one that I find within me, just as I find the ideas of shapes and numbers; and I understand from this idea that it belongs to God’s nature that he always exists. This understanding is he This just as vivid and clear as what is involved in mathematical proofs…. So even if I have gone wrong in my meditations these past days, I ought still to regard the existence of God as being at least as certain as I have taken the truths of mathematics to be.” be.” Meditation 5 The Ontological Argument for the The Existence of God. Existence It is part of the concept of God that It God exists. God 2. If it is part of the concept of God that If God exists, then God exists. God 3. Therefore, God exists. 1. Meditation 5 Justification for premise 1: The concept of God is the concept of a perfect being. Existence is a perfection. So, as existence is a perfection and God is a perfect So, being, i.e., a being that lacks no perfections, then the concept of God is the concept of a being that exists. concept “[J]ust as it is self-contradictory to think of highlands in [J]ust a world where there are no lowlands, so it is selfworld contradictory to think of God as not existing--that is, to contradictory God --that think of a supremely perfect being as lacking a perfection, namely the perfection of existence.” perfection, So, Descartes holds, it is part of the concept So, of God that God exists. of Meditation 5 Justification for premise 2: If existence is a part of the concept of God, then, I If can’t think of God as non-existent. can’t But if I can’t think of God as non-existent, then it But can’t be that God is non-existent. can’t So, it must be, claims Descartes, that God is not So, non-existent. non-existent. So God exists. “From the fact that I can’t think of God except From as existing, it follows that God and existence God existence are inseparable, which is to say that God really exists.” really Meditation 5 Is this a good argument? Reason to doubt premise 1: Perfections, if they are anything, they must be Perfections, properties of the thing of which they are attributed. properties Properties, however, are ways in which a thing Properties, that exists does exist. that But, existence itself, is not a way in which a thing But, exists. exists. So existence is not a property and thus not a So perfection. perfection. Meditation 5 Reasons to doubt premise 2: To say that a property is part of the concept of a To thing is just to say if a thing satisfying that concept existed, it would have that property. existed, For example: to say that it is For part of the concept of a triangle to have three sides is just to say that if a thing exists and is a triangle, then it has three sides exists So, to say that existence is part of the concept of So, God is just to say that if a thing exists and is God, then it has existence (i.e., it exists). then But it doesn’t follow from that that anything But satisfying the concept God exists. satisfying ...
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