Descartes and the Metaphysical Doubt

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Descartes proves that God exists in his third meditation. He proves that God exists because he wants to be certain about things outside of himself. But, he cannot be certain of these things if he is ignorant about the existence of God. This is because if a supreme God exists, he could cause Descartes to be mistaken in the one avenue to certainty that he has. This avenue is known as clear and distinct perception, and, according to Descartes, it is what is necessary to be certain about a thing. However, a supreme God could easily be deceiving him even when he thinks he is correct as a result of this clear and distinct perception. This is known as the metaphysical doubt. Therefore, to remove this basis for doubt, it is important to Descartes…show more content…
Put in a different way, a baby elephant will never be able to fly, because its ability to fly can never be more perfect than that same virtue contained in its parents. Descartes applies this concept of causation to ideas. For instance, Descartes has a certain idea that God is infinite. We can therefore say that Descartes idea of God contains infinity objectively, because, the idea of an infinite God is in his head. Since something must have caused this idea, it follows that its cause must be formally infinite. This basically means that the idea of infinity in Descartes was caused by something with at least as much reality. Picture the baby elephant illustration, the baby elephant is a representation of the formal reality of its parents. Now, Descartes himself is not an infinite being, so he cannot be the cause of this idea of infinity. This means that some other being outside him must be infinite, and we are left only to conclude that God exists. However, someone might say that their idea of God is different to Descartes. For instance, Descartes idea of God is that he is infinite, but my idea of God might be that he is invisible. We have different objective realities of who God is. Therefore, both ideas surely cannot resemble the same God outside of us. In response to this argument, Descartes might say the following. Although it is true that given the causal adequacy principle for ideas, my idea of an invisible God would mean that God is invisible, this
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