Third Meditation, by Rene Descartes

885 WordsJul 17, 20184 Pages
In the Third Meditation, Descartes forms a proof for the existence of God. He begins by laying down a foundation for what he claims to know and then offers an explanation for why he previously accepted various ideas but is no longer certain of them. Before he arrives at the concept of God, Descartes categorizes ideas and the possible sources that they originate from. He then distinguishes between the varying degrees of reality that an idea can possess, as well as the cause of an idea. Descartes proceeds to investigate the idea of an infinite being, or God, and how he came to acquire such an idea with more objective reality than he himself has. By ruling out the possibility of this idea being invented or adventitious, Descartes concludes…show more content…
Descartes explains that the “ideas or thoughts of these things were hovering before my mind”, not perceptions of things existing outside of him (Descartes, 24). It follows that he cannot come to know of things for certain through sense perception. Descartes separates his notion of ideas in two categories: the formal or material and objective. The formal and material notion is that all ideas are the same. The objective notion is that all ideas are different. Considered formally, ideas are the content of the activity of thinking and involved in the cogito. These ideas are clear and distinct. When ideas are considered objectively, on the other hand, they are the mental representatives of things that really exist. Therefore, the connections between ideas yield truths when they correspond to the realities of the world in which we live. Ideas do not come from experience, but are found within intellect itself. Descartes, however, states that these clear and distinct ideas do not necessarily correspond to realities, as there may be an omnipotent deceiver. In Meditation Three, Descartes describes three different notions of ideas and states that ideas can be adventitious, entering the mind from the outside world by external forces. These ideas include hearing a noise or feeling the heat of a fire. Ideas can also be innate, manufactured by the mind itself. An individual's idea of what a thing is and the truth of that thing must come from his own nature. Lastly,

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