Ontology and God

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* Descartes’ Proofs for God’s Existence
* www.prshockley.org
* In sum, 3 Arguments for God’s Existence are used by Descartes in Meditations: 1.The argument for the existence of God from the fact that I have an idea of Him (1st proof in Meditation 3). 2.The argument from my own existence. Here it is argued that a cause more perfect than myself must be assumed to explain my coming into being and my continued existence (2nd proof in Meditation 3). 3.The Ontological Argument for God’s Existence (3rd proof in Meditation 5). * I.Introduction:

* Descartes’ Methodic doubt (Meditation 1) leads him down into the depths of skepticism by abstaining from any belief that is not entirely certain and indubitable. After he doubts sense perceptions, whether he is awake or dreaming (dream argument), and whether we can be sure of any belief in view of Evil Genie argument, withholding assent from (doubt) dubious, uncertain opinions, he finds him assenting to the one and only truth that cannot be doubted: he is thinking (Meditation 2). From there he offers an argument for God’s existence (Meditation 3). * The Third Meditation is difficult to understand because he uses scholastic terms: * Great Chain of Being,

* Heirloom Theory of Causality;
* Technical terms like Formal Reality, Objective reality, and Eminent. * B.Setting the Context for Proof: I’m a thinking thing. * At beginning of Third Meditation, using Methodic Doubt, he systematically examined all his beliefs and withheld any assent to any claim that can be doubted. * He came to the conclusion that the one thing that he can’t doubt is that the fact even though the evil genie may be seeking to deceive him, he could not deceive Descartes into thinking that he did not exist. Since Descartes is thinking, he knows that he is a thinking thing. * C.Setting the Context for Proof: Criterion of Certainty. 2.After asserting that he is able to lay down a general rule that whatever he perceives is very clearly and distinctly true, he immediately acknowledges, “Yet I previously accepted as wholly certain and evident many things which I afterwards realized were doubtful. What were these? The earth, sky, stars, and everything else that I apprehended and with the senses. But what was it it about then that I perceived clearly? Just that the ideas, or thoughts, of such things appeared before my mind. Yet even now I am not denying that these ideas occur within me. But there was something else which I used to assert, and which through habitual belief I thought I perceived clearly, although I I did not in fact do so. This was that there were things outside me which were the sources of my ideas and which resembled them in all respects. Here was my mistake; or at any rate, if my judgement was true, it was not thanks to the strengths of my perception [M 35].

a. What Descartes is claiming is that what he in fact saw were the IDEAS of such things. Before he had presumptuously assumed that they were things (e.g., earth, sky, stars) in the external world which caused such ideas.

* D.Setting the Context for Proof: I even doubt more simple & straightforward ideas: 1. “But what about when I was considering something very simple and straightforward ideas in arithmetic or geometry, for example that two and three added together make five, and so on? Did I not see at least these things clearly enough to affirm their truth?” 2. Yet, while he can barely bring himself to withhold assent to mathematics, any more than his own existence, there is still a lingering doubt. He writes:

Yet when I turn to the things themselves which I think I perceive very clearly, I am so convinced by them that I spontaneously declare: let whoever can do so deceive me, he will never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I continue to think I am something; or make it true at some future time that I have never existed, since it is...
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