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It is worth noting that, guided by the scientific methods of cognition, Rene Descartes came to a skeptical but boundless trust in human mind. He argued that the path to philosophy lied precisely in doubt in connection with the need to question both feelings and thoughts. In this case, the actual fact of doubt will be unquestionable (Ariew, 2014). The thinker considered this approach to philosophy more reliable than mathematical intuition. Assuming that the presence of thinking presupposed the existence of spirit, Descartes had built his ontological approach based on this relationship. One of the branches of his ontological thought was the discussion of the existence of God. The philosopher searched for an explanation for this phenomenon and tried to argue for the existence of the Supreme Being. The purpose of this paper is review and analyze the arguments Rene Descartes provided to evidence the existence of God.
Trying to find an explanation for the existence of God, Descartes came to an idea of an innate nature of knowledge. Despite the fact that many researchers emphasize the fallacy of such reasoning, this understanding was not absurd due to the fact that people, as a rule, rely on the knowledge of previous generations and do not question the truthfulness of admonitions or beliefs (Ariew, 2014). However, the philosopher sought for a comprehensive explanation, looking for the proof of the authenticity of human knowledge about the external world.
Initially, Descartes tried to find arguments proving the existence of God explaining it by the fact that God was an essential intermediary element between humans and nature. Moreover, God acted as a guarantor of the existence of the world. In this connection, Descartes assumed that God was the source of truth and was opposed to lies and deceit (Croft, 2013). Therefore, the first proof of the existence of the Supreme Being Descartes considered the inadmissibility of lies. The next argument was that it was God solely who was able to instill in people’s souls an understanding of what was a supremely perfect being. In addition, another evidence was the concept of rationalism. Respectively, according to Rene Descartes, no thinking or rational person could assert that there was no God (Hatfield, 2014). Notably, many successive thinkers, as well as researchers, indicated that the latter argument was of medieval scholastic character.
It is worth noting that all the three arguments described above can be considered subjective and questionable, and they are not logical enough because of the lack of evidence to sustain such reasoning. In this regard, Rene Descartes introduced another justification in support of his position. He derived this argument from his theory of doubt. According to the thinker, the essence of doubt (as the basis of thinking) confirmed the intuitive existence of supremely perfect being; respectively, God existed beyond all doubt (Croft, 2013). Thus, introducing this fourth argument, Descartes summed up all the previous principles. Referring to the facts that God was the guarantor of reliability and intuition generated the truth, God existed in connection with the allusion to the intuitive discretion of the human mind.
Nevertheless, this approach to ontology revealed another perspective, which proved the dependence of God’s existence on the human mind and its actions. It is important to emphasize that following this rationalization, the philosopher came to the principle of deism. Deism states that the existence of God cannot change the actual composition of the past and cannot affect the laws of nature that were also determined by God (Jaspers, 2013). In this context, God is the creator who has endowed the world with the essence, though the Supreme Being is unable to influence the further development of nature. God preserves nature and the truth of knowledge and ensures the inviolability of natural laws.
Nevertheless, in parallel with his argument, Descartes called into question the fact whether God created the world. The structure of the physical world presupposes the possibility of the emergence of nature without the initiative and power of God. It is essential to emphasize that Rene Descartes noted the extensiveness and space that nature occupied, in which there were no voids, and only material objects had such a characteristic according to his philosophy and worldview (Williams, 2014). Therefore, the presence of physical structure and mathematical properties of the world indicated that God did not create the nature.
Core of Reasoning
It should be noted that in his philosophy, Descartes stressed that he did not have a criterion for determining whether he was conscious or in a state of a dream. Relying on this leitmotif, the only statement, which could be made, was that doubting the reality of the existence of the external world was reasonable. Descartes was convinced that the idea of God as a perfect being was a natural conclusion of human thinking (Dicker, 2013). The experience acquired by a person has proved the imperfection and limitations of people and their mind; however, this idea was inherent in people due to the fact that the notion was embedded in them from outside. Descartes came to an understanding that the idea of humans’ imperfection was instilled by God solely as the creator who designed humankind and put into their minds the notion of God as a perfect being (Dicker, 2013). In turn, this approach implied the existence of an external world as an object of human cognition. God could not deceive people, and the created world had to follow to the immutable laws that the human mind needed to comprehend. Thus, God served as a pledge of understanding the world and the objectivity of knowledge, and the recognition of the Supreme Being would allow people to attain confidence in human mind.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Rene Descartes provided several arguments to prove the existence of God. Firstly, he emphasized that God was a perfect being while people were imperfect and this idea suggested that it should be perfect to exist rather than the reverse. This argument was ontological in character. The second reasoning lied within the distinction between two types of reality the finite and infinite one. According to this concept, objects or things that have concrete or formal nature belong to finite reality. For instance, a stone has formal reality; therefore, it is finite. In the same manner, the idea of Supreme Being is objective as well as its infinite formal substantiality. The third argument rooted from logical principles. Rene Descartes considered that it was impossible that an idea could emerge out of nowhere and this notion had such attributes as cause and effect. Therefore, due to the fact that people had a concept of the Supreme Being, it evidenced the existence of God.
Ariew, R. (2014). Descartes and the first Cartesians. London, UK: Oxford University Press.
Croft, N. (2013). The Descartes legacy. London, UK: Entangled Publishing.
Dicker, G. (2013). Descartes. New York, NY: OUP USA.
Hatfield, G. (2014). The Routledge guidebook to Descartes’ meditations. New York, NY: Routledge.
Jaspers, K. (2013). Leonardo, Descartes, Max Weber. New York, NY: Routledge.
Williams, B. (2014). Descartes. New York, NY: Routledge.