The On First Philosophy By Rene Descartes

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In his work Meditations on First Philosophy, published in 1641, René Descartes sets out to establish a set of indubitable truths for the sciences. He begins by discarding all of his beliefs, then works to rebuild his beliefs based on careful thought. Descartes clearly states this goal, saying in the First Meditation, “I will work my way up… I will accomplish this by putting aside everything that admits of the least doubt” (I, 17). He is able to establish his own existence, but struggles to move beyond his internal thoughts to discuss external objects. Descartes decides that the Christian God is the bridge he needs to escape the confines of his own mind, and argues for the existence of God in the Third Meditation in order to move on to discussing the physical world. In this paper I will argue that Descartes’ rationalistic project would have been improved without an appeal to the Christian God, although I will also argue that Descartes thinks this appeal is necessary. Descartes declares that he will only accept ideas that he can absolutely affirm, but accepts the existence of God without adequately proving it. This inadequacy undermines his declared project of defining the world in terms of established ideas. He does not sufficiently prove the idea of God, yet bases so much on it. When he later discusses physical bodies, intellect, and mathematical concepts, the reader cannot forget that everything he writes is based on the shaky foundation of the Christian God, and finds his
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