Philosophy 5 Meditation Sept 13/12
Proof through analysis
Faculties of decision making
Mind body Dualism
Descartes thinks that since God made his mind, it should be a reliable guide to therd
truth. We look at more counter intuitive proof for the explanation of God in the 3
The 5 meditation gives an Ontological argument. God by definition has all
perfections, and existing is one of those qualities. Existence is a good property.
Although, it depends on what your talking about. It’s not a good thing that cancer
exists. Good things should exist, rather then not.
He compares reasoning in the Ontological argument to the reasoning used to arrive
at geometric truths. You can reflect on your concept of a triangle, and arrive at some
geometric knowledge of a triangle (sum of sides, etc). You can do that just by
analyzing your understanding of a triangle. That is studying its essence. Triangles
must have certain properties to count as a triangle. Having 3 sides is part of its
essence. When you discover the essence of something, you discover what it truly is.
All of this doesn’t mean the object exists; essence and existence are two different
Descartes says God is a unique concept. God’s essence includes existence. By
definition, it’s the greatest possible being, if God didn’t have the property of
existence, it wouldn’t be the greatest possible being.
A French monk before Descartes named Gaunilo said his objection was, if this kind
of reasoning worked in establishing god, wouldn’t it establish the existence of a
whole lot of things? What about the greatest conceivable island? Does that exist?
You could have the greatest conceivable object, and just add existence. You can’t
prove something by analyzing it.
Emanuel Kan says the flaw in the (Descartes’) reasoning is, existence is not a
property, and it’s not a quality. Any genuine property will either have existence or
lack it. How could a thing lack existence? If it’s a thing, it exists. When we say God exists we mean we have found something fits that description.
When your saying anything exists it just means that something fits that description.
The 3 Meditation shows the influential ideas that God doesn’t just create the world,
but sustains it. This is called continuous creation; If God left, the world would
vanish. The match is sustaining the flame. God created the world and in the next
moment decided to keep it in existence, etc, etc.
In the 4 Meditation, he has to explain an obvious problem. Descartes says “I do
sometimes make errors when I use my mind as a guide to the truth. But how could
that happen if God is such a great engineer?” This is an example of the broader topic
of evil in the world. Why are there any flaws in creation? We might not notice or
appreciate the good if there was no evil.
Free will defense: The evil things