Why is God so important to Descartes’ philosophical project in the Meditations? Answer with reference to Descartes’ attempts to prove the existence of God in Meditation 3. The existence of God has an extreme influence on the majority of philosophical debate and questioning and no more so than with Descartes and his meditations. His meditations and his method of approaching philosophical questioning all derive from a rationalist ideology. Therefore he argues that all humans are thinking beings and have ideas prior to experience due to their intellectual existence and not of a sensual one.
His meditations are primarily to dismiss Empiricism and to reveal that doubt is necessary to our life. Perhaps even to warn us of the dangers of our own deceitfulness and not to trust anything forced upon us by our perceptions. That is why God is so important to his meditations; as Descartes believes God is perfect and cannot be deceived and cannot fail us therefore in his trust we do not need to doubt. Descartes believes the starting point of anything is in the thinkers mind. In his third meditation he uses the thinker’s first starting point of idea to suggest the existence of God.
If they have the idea of God, then the features and attributes we have of him, he must have and therefore exist. His line of thought is evidently anti- empiricism, proven further by his statement: “The existence of God would be obvious if we weren’t distracted by life in the sensory world. And the knowledge of God saves us from doubt about other things we are certain of. ” This gives an insight into why Descartes relies so heavily on the God in his meditations. It seems he uses God to support his meditations and uses God as a solution to his philosophy of doubt.
God is vital as he is the answer to Descartes’ most complex ideas on doubt and enables him to preach God’s ability to relieve us of doubt but further more he want to reveal to us that God is the reason for all matter , for our existence and he cannot do this by suggesting God is simply a product of our own imagination, he has to prove that he is real. It could be suggested the reason that Descartes is so determined to prove God is not simply a device created in his mind, is to give some sort of insight into how we were brought into existence.
He is certain that there must be a creator to something as complex as the human race and that we simply couldn’t come from nothing. He uses an ancient Greek philosophy to reinforce his argument that nothing can create nothing and there is most definitely a cause and that cause is God. God is the reason we have the idea of God and therefore he is he reason to our entirety of our own ideologies. This gives further insight into why God is so important to Descartes; it provides the first starting point to his philosophy of the human thought and comforts his doubts surrounding the deceptiveness of our own mind.
With the perfection that God bestows and being the creator of our own mind then it surely can help us -with the truth and perfection of God- overcome the falsities of our senses. It also reassures us that our inherited knowledge cannot lead us to falseness as it has been gifted to us by God and therefore this helps Descartes claim that his philosophical debate is truthful as it came from his knowledge via God who never deceives.
However in meditation 4, Descartes insists that we posses independent perceptions that potentially and theoretically always hold truth but only depending on our own free will and if we abide by it properly can we use our perception correctly. We can use a criteria to distinguish what is true or false in our perceptions and this is ability and its validity is insured by God but only in accordance with ourselves and our will to choose correctly. So, he is saying that we can still fall into error by misjudgement or even ignorance but if we are patient and summarise and judge all situation we should avoid any mistakes in life.
Descartes uses God and his tolerance of error to further prophesise his anti epistemologist line of thought. He proposes that we make errors in our perceptions of representations, as we are easily deceived by false representations that are either non-existent or false. It is through misjudging these representations that we make errors. Yet this weakness in us is vital in testing our souls; we must have the choice to do bad and to make mistakes in order to measure our will power to fall into error as little as possible.
By doing so we can prove ourselves to either be good or bad , worthy of reward or punishment. Descartes proposes that God enabled this free will to help us also make our own decisions and become righteous by our own means. This suggests why God is so vital to the meditations; he creates us with the many perfections of himself but does make us culpable of wrong doing and free of will to decide how we live our lives. So God’s existence is to help us and guide us in a rightful way but not carry us.
Therefore the meditations have more importance than before as they now are not simply methods that we must accept as part of our way of living, we are not forced upon them. We can in fact choose to follow them or not, we may take the risk of ignoring them and facing the consequences but that according to Descartes is God’s will, therefore his meditations are God’s will and further heightening God’s importance on his meditations. God is clearly deeply important to Descartes as he provides his only proof of how we came to existence but also why and how we live our lives the way we do.
Also God is integral in his whole argument regarding dismissing Empiricism and insisting that we have the means to live a meaningful and good life but despite the ability , we must also be righteous in our choices in life. Bibliography Search for a Method in Meditations Flage, Daniel E. (Routledge), 03/1999 A VIEW OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF DESCARTES, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Vol. 18, No. E. H. (Penn State University PressStable 3 July, 1884), Descartes’ Meditations, Francks, Richard ( Continuum International Publishing ), 07/2008 Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Trans.
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