Descartes ' Meditations On First Philosophy

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Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) contains six Meditations. In the first two of these Descartes addresses doubt and certainty. By the end of the second Meditation Descartes establishes the possibility of certainty by concluding that he is a “thinking thing” and that this is beyond doubt. Having established the possibility of certainty, Descartes attempts to prove the existence of God. The argument he presents in the Third Meditation for the existence of God has been nicknamed the ‘Trademark’ argument. This argument deals with types of ideas, of which there are three, a principle called the Causal Adequacy principle, and a sliding scale of reality. The argument concludes that the idea of a God that is a perfect being is an innate idea that is real and was caused by God and therefore God is real. This argument will be explained with the greater detail in the next paragraph. In the Fifth Meditation Descartes again addresses the existence of God with an argument for His existence. This argument is a variation of St. Anselm’s ontological argument. This argument is also framed around his theory of ideas, as well as his principle of ‘clear and distinct perception’ and is explained and discussed in paragraph three. The paragraphs following these will discuss how convincing these two arguments from Descartes are and will deal with various objections. Many of these objections are strong enough that it will be clear why Descartes’ case has failed to convince everyone.

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