Descartes' First Proof of The Existence of God Essays

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The 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes believed that God exists. His proof of an all perfect being’s existence was explained by having an idea of God that had to have been caused by God. But simply having an idea of God is not enough for there to necessarily exist such a being. This paper will critically examine Descartes’s causal argument though its premises and conclusion. Descartes makes an attempt to prove God’s existence throughout his third meditation. In his first premise he states that he has an idea of an infinitely perfect being. He uses the Principle of Sufficient reason to advance his argument; it states that everything must have a reason or cause. This put forth his second premise; that the idea of god must have a …show more content…
God however, is a substance that is not finite; God is of the highest level of reality, an infinite substance. There are three levels of reality with properties or modes at the lowest, finite substances such as humans in the middle and an infinite substance, i.e. God as the highest (Thompson, 30).
In the fourth premise Descartes states that indeed, the cause of this idea must contain at least as much formal reality as the idea contains objective reality. Formal and objective are used in a different context than what we are used to. “The formal properties of an idea are the properties it has as a mode of consciousness” (Thompson, 31) Formal reality is properties or modes that ideas have. In contrast, objective reality focuses on what an idea represents or the content of the ideas. “Descartes uses the phrase objective properties of an idea to stand for the content of the idea or what the idea is of” (Thompson, 31). There are also varying degrees of formal and objective reality. Modes, finite substances and infinite substances all have varying degrees formal and objective reality. Similarly, modes are considered to be the lowest type of both objective and formal reality, followed by finite and then by infinite substances. To put forth an example, a dragon has the objective reality of an idea of a substance. This is so even though we know that dragons do not exist. However, if hypothetically they
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