cannot doubt about your own existence, for that would be a contradiction, since it is necessary for youto exist first before you can doubt. Descartes even has this malignant demon, in which he assumes tobe messing up with his thinking, and that it is causing him to be erroneous. Even if there is amalignant demon existing, he still has the guarantee that he exists. He was so confident that he evensaid “
Doubtless, then, I exist, since I am deceived; and, let him deceive me as he may, he can never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I shall be conscious that I am something.
” The existenceof the cogito is now accepted as true, since it is clear and distinct, and it cannot be doubted.But in so doing, Descartes can only prove the existence of the cogito – nothing more (at least for themoment). He couldn't prove, using the 'cogito ergo sum' argument, the existence of the materialworld, of God, and even of his own body. Only the cogito, the mind, the rational entity can be proved.This is the beginning of the dualism of Descartes. There is a distinct separation of the material andthe spiritual. By doing such, Descartes separated Theology and the Sciences, and because of thatthere should be no conflict between the two. Sciences are isolated with the physical, and Theologywith the spiritual. Nonetheless, Descartes used the truth of the existence of the cogito as thefoundation of his philosophy. We can remember that it's among the rules of Descartes that he wouldstart from the simplest and easiest to know, going to the knowledge of the more complex. And fromthis simple, yet clear and distinct truth, he would proceed to complex knowledge.Solipsistic the doctrine might be, nevertheless, it is a sound argument. As long as it concerns onlywith this primary Cartesian philosophy, I have no problem about it. The existence of the cogito is soevident, that to doubt it is foolish! The problem with Descartes begins when he moves to prove theexternal world, including God. The method of how Descartes proved things is something I do notagree with.
The Existence of God
From the existence of the cogito, Descartes moves to prove the external world. In the Meditations, itwas God whom he tackled first, and the material world came next. His first argument, the 'perfectionargument', was given at the third Meditation. On the other hand, his version of the Ontologicalargument is given at the fifth Meditation. As we would progress our learning with Descartes ways of proving God's existence, we can observe that his method of proving God is a priori – withoutreference to the external world. At the level of 'knowledge' that Descartes had, it's proper to havesuch an argument. “
I am a thinking ( conscious ) thing, that is, a being who doubts, affirms, denies,knows a few objects, and is ignorant of many,-- who loves, hates, wills, refuses, who imagineslikewise, and perceives... And in the little I have said I think I have summed up all that I really know,or at least all that up to this time I was aware I knew.
Because he removed all of is former knowledge – as they are subject to doubt, and things subject to doubt are regarded as false – theonly thing he knows at the moment is that his cogito exists. With that, it would be disastrous for him tohave an a posteriori argument for God's existence, since he is not certain about the existence of theexternal world.In the latter parts of the paper, it would be shown that even if the external world is proven, Descarteswould still reject it as a reference for God's existence. He would still insist on proving God a priori.Even on the Discourse on the Method, Descartes proved God's existence a priori. His argument onthe Discourse
is further elaborated in the third Meditation. The argument he used was the 'perfectionargument', wherein he stressed the necessity of God's existence because of the ideas of perfectionthat we have on our minds. That argument would be dealt with later. On the other hand, the version of
Meditations on First Philosophy
. Trans. John Veitch (1901), 14.5Ibid, 20.6See Discourse on the Method by Rene Descartes, chapter 4.
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