Descartes’ Ultimate Purpose of the Meditations Essay

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Descartes’ Ultimate Purpose of the Meditations My initial approach to René Descartes, in Meditations on First Philosophy, views the third meditation’s attempts to prove the existence of God as a way of establishing a foundation for the existence of truth, falsity, corporeal things and eventually the establishment of the sciences. When viewed in this light, Descartes is accused of drawing himself into a ‘Cartesian circle,’ ultimately forcing this cosmological proof of God to defy Cartesian method, thus precipitating the failure of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth meditations. This approach to the meditations, in the order with which they are presented, allows me to state that a proof of the existence of God cannot hold…show more content…
In my research, I have not found any critical analysis of Descartes’ meditations that cite the source of this circularity to be anything but the issue of clear and distinct perceptions. From the start of the third meditation, Descartes consults his perceptions, “So now I seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true” (Descartes: 24). Descartes does acknowledge, however, that his perceptions have been wrong in the past: “through habitual belief I thought I perceived clearly, although I did not in fact do so” (Descartes: 25). This establishment of doubting that which seems obvious is the mission of the first meditation where Descartes outlines his method: Cartesian doubt. Yet, due to the conclusion of “cogito ergo sum” from the second meditation, “let whoever can do so deceive me, he will never bring it about that I am nothing” (Descartes: 25). Furthering his reasoning of the clear and distinct perception of his own existence, Descartes writes that not even a deceiver could bring about a falsity that would produce “a manifest contradiction” (Descartes: 25). It is when Descartes proclaims the mission of this third meditation that a circularity arises: “I must examine whether there is a God, and, if there is, whether he can be a deceiver. For if I do not know this, it seems that I can never be quite certain about anything else
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