Rene Descartes Argument

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Descartes’ first argument for the existence of God

In meditations of the first philosophy, Descartes reflects that he is often deceived by his senses. He therefore decides to discard all his pre-conceived notions and start from scratch to find out things that he is absolutely certain about. Descartes begins by showing that he is certain about only one thing, which is that he exists as a thinking thing. The fact that he can doubt his own existence goes on to show that he exists and that he is a thinking thing capable of doubting, imagining, willing etc. (142). Despite being sure of his own existence as a thinking thing, he continues to have his doubts about other bodily things in the external world. Descartes traces back his first conclusion …show more content…

Descartes asserts that something cannot come from nothing and that the effect of a cause has to have at least as much reality as the cause itself. Thus, something that is more perfect/real cannot come from something less perfect. He uses the terms formal and objective reality to talk about this idea. According to Descartes, formal reality is the amount of reality that a thing has by the virtue of existing as it is. Formal reality can be infinite, finite or modal with the descending degrees of reality in that order. Objective reality, on the other hand, is the kind of reality that a thing has in virtue of representing something with formal reality. Ideas of things therefore have objective reality and this objective reality is caused by and depends on the substance with formal reality (144). For example, one can say that the idea of a cup of coffee comes from an actual existing cup of coffee. Even if one might say that the idea of a cup of coffee came from a cup of tea, Descartes would argue that the idea of the cup of tea must have come from an actual cup of tea with formal reality. Thus if we examine the causal chain, objective reality can give rise to objective reality if both have the same level of reality but if we trace the origin, the source of the first idea must have been something with at least as much formal

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