Descartes – Book Report/Review Example
Descartes Developing an entire Meditation devoted to the Descartes proves the existence of Godas an important element of dualism in his book Meditations on First Philosophy. Since the idea that he could be deceived had to have had a cause of some kind, because he had already proven that nothing comes from nothing, Descartes reasoned that this cause must have at least as much reality as the idea itself. At the same time, since he did not consider himself infinitely perfect, Descartes reasoned he could not have been the cause of this idea, so there must be an outside cause that is infinitely perfect – in other words, God must exist. This idea is treated with logic and Descartes explores his idea that he himself exists. He reasons this existence must have a cause of some kind, which Descartes determines to be one of five possibilities. The first is that his existence stems from himself, but if he had created himself, he would have made himself perfect. Since he is not perfect, he could not have made himself. The second possibility is that he is merely a continuation of something that has always existed. However, it was already well known that continued existence does not necessarily follow from present existence, such as in the case of death. The physical explanation is that his parents were the cause of his existence, but this line of reasoning was determined to lead to an infinite regress and therefore unproductive to follow. If he were made by something that was less than a perfect God, as in the fourth possibility, Descartes would still be left searching for the concept of something supreme, which something less perfect than God would not be capable of providing, not being perfect itself. Having eliminated all but one of the five possibilities, Descartes is able to declare with confidence that God exists as he is the only being that meets all of the necessary requirements that have been established. “I know that I could not exist with my present nature – that is, I could not exist with the idea of God in me – unless there were really a God. This must be the very God whose idea is in me, the thing having all of the perfections that I can’t fully comprehend but can somehow reach with thought, who clearly cannot have any defects. From this it’s obvious He can’t deceive – for, as the natural light reveals, fraud and deception arise from defect” (Descartes, 1989). It seems there is something wrong with this reasoning, perhaps that he threw out some of the other possibilities too quickly, but in trying to follow ideas such as the third and fourth possibility, I get lost myself so I cannot say whether I believe his logic to be true or false.
Descartes, R. Meditations on First Philosophy. Trans. John Veitch. New York: Prometheus Books, (1989).