Literature Study GuidesMeditations On First Philosophy With Objections And RepliesSelected Objection And Reply Ontological Proof Of Gods Existence Summary

Meditations on First Philosophy (with Objections and Replies) | Study Guide

René Descartes

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Course Hero, "Meditations on First Philosophy (with Objections and Replies) Study Guide," November 10, 2017, accessed September 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Meditations-on-First-Philosophy-with-Objections-and-Replies/.

Meditations on First Philosophy (with Objections and Replies) | Selected Objection and Reply: Ontological Proof of God's Existence | Summary

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Summary

In the First Objections, Catholic theologian Johannes Caterus argues that the ontological argument only establishes conceptual existence, not real existence. He thinks what Descartes has shown is simply that the concept of existence is inseparably linked to the concept of a supreme being. The connection between necessary existence and God may be proven in the concept, but not in reality.

Descartes replies that Caterus's argument overlooks the truth of clear and distinct ideas—and the idea of God as a supremely perfect being is clear and distinct. In addition, the necessary existence included in the concept of God entails real, or actual, existence.

Analysis

The essence of something makes that thing what it is, but essence is not identical to existence. Descartes concedes as much when he makes the comparison to the concept of a mountain including the concept of a valley. Just because the one essentially involves the other does not guarantee either really exists. If Caterus is correct, then all Descartes should conclude is if God exists, he does so necessarily. Descartes's position is that the clear and distinct idea of God as a supremely perfect being includes necessary existence, which is what distinguishes, for example, the existence of God from, say, the existence of a mountain.

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