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Philosophy 1 Lecture Day 15.docx

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George Mattey

Philosophy 1 Lecture Day 15 • Descartes rationalist project is to accept as scientific knowledge only what is revealed by the light of nature. • Descartes notes that using C & D as a criterion of truth has an important limitation. • When he is not perceiving the things themselves, doubt can creep into his mind. • He can entertain the possibility that God might have made him so as to be deceived about the simplest things. • To remove doubt he must determine whether God exists, and whether God could be a deceiver. • He is taught by nature that he has certain ideas which resemble other things: 1. They seem to be about other things because they arise against his will. 2. We naturally assume that the ideas resemble physical objects which are their cause. • But which has been taught by nature can be deceptive: 1. The ideas might be produced by myself and not by other things. 2. Many of my ideas do not resemble what I think causes them (the sun looks the size of a dime). • The formal reality of a thing is its existence independent of thought. • The represented beings have objective reality to that degree: 1. The idea of a substance is more real than that of its qualities. 2. The idea of an infinite substance is more real than that of a finite substance. • There are degrees of existence that are represented by the ideas with degrees of existence0. • I am not the cause of myself 1. If I had caused my own existence, I would have made myself perfect • As a finite substance, I have enough formal reality to be the cause of an idea of any finite substance besides myself: a. Of other human minds b. Of non-human minds (angels) c. Of physical objects • So, my having the idea of a finite substance other than myself doesn’t prove that such a finite substance exists. • I do not have enough formal reality to be the cause of my idea of God, a supreme, infinite being which created all other things. • Descartes features Anselm andAquinas: a. It moves from having an idea of God to God’s existence b. The inference is from the idea as effect of God as cause of the idea • Descartes claims: the cause of an idea with a given degree of objective reality must have at least as high a degree of formal reality. • Besides causing any idea of himself, God causes the existence of anything that has such an idea. • The idea of God is that of a perfect being. • Aperfect being is infallibly avoiding error(so long as I use it properly) • I fall into error because I have an infinite will which can accept anything as true, including what is beyond the limits of my understanding. • When I fall into error, it is no fault of God’s: 1. I should thank God for giving me even limited understanding 2. Although God could have made me error free, God made me in a way he knew is best. 3. I am able to avoid error by retraining my judgment within the limits of my intellect.
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