descartes_guide3 - THIRD MEDITATION The existence of God So...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
THIRD MEDITATION The existence of God So far Descartes’ sceptical arguments have threatened all knowledge but the knowledge of self provided in the cogito . But instead of turning now to the question of how knowledge of material things may be possible, the thinker turns in the Third Meditation to a question about God. ‘I must examine whether there is a God, and, if there is, whether he can be a deceiver. For if I do not know this, it seems that I can never be quite certain about anything else’. He believes he must prove the existence of ‘the true God, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and the sciences lie hidden’, as he puts it later in the Meditations. Knowledge of God’s existence is seen as the foundation of , and more certain than , all knowledge other than immediate self-knowledge. The importance of this Meditation is two-fold: firstly in its methodological proposal about clear and distinct ideas, developed in more detail later; and secondly in is in its conclusion that God exists. Clear and Distinct Ideas Descartes reflects on the arguments of the Second Meditation, and asks: what is it about the argument which made me so certain about it? He says that it is the clarity and distinctness of his perception of it. I am certain that I am a thinking thing .... In this first item of knowledge there is simply a clear and distinct perception of what I am asserting; this would not be enough to make me certain of the truth of the matter if it could ever turn out that something which I perceived with such clarity and distinctness was false. 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. If clarity and distinctness are a sure sign of truth, then we have the beginnings of a path out of the sceptical morass. Not only do I know of my own existence, and essential nature. Guided by the principle — 30 —
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
of clear and distinct ideas, I can keep to the path of truth by assenting only to those ideas that are clear and distinct. Strictly speaking it is judgments, rather than ideas, that can be true or false. If I were to consider ideas merely as what they are, namely modes of my thought, ‘they could scarcely give me any material for error’. However, my chief error consists in ‘judging that the ideas which are in me resemble, or conform to, things located outside me’. My main source of error is a hasty judgement that some idea corresponds to, resembles, some reality outside me. Then I make judgements that are false. The principle about clear and distinct ideas can help me to avoid these errors. Here we have a hint of things to come: Descartes’ theory of error and judgment, which is the proper topic of Meditation IV.
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern