In Stephen Voss ed. Oxford University Press. The purpose varies, but one has been to show that the metaphysical Descartes, of the Meditations, is less genuine than the scientific Descartes. Accordingly, discussion of God and the soul, the evil demon, and the non-deceiving God were elements of rhetorical strategy to please theologians, not of serious philosophical argumentation. I agree in finding two Descartes, but the two I identify are not scientist and philosopher, but practitioner and methodologist of the mathematical sciences on the one hand, and metaphysician of a new, general science of nature on the other.
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The only possible ultimate causes are a myself b my always having existed c my parents d something less perfect than God e God 4. Not a.
If I had created myself, I would have made myself perfect. Not b. This does not solve the problem. If I am a dependent being, I need to be continually sustained by another. Not c. This leads to an infinite regress. Not d. The idea of perfection that exists in me cannot have originated from a non-perfect being.
Therefore, e. God exists. Descartes argued that he had a clear and distinct idea of God. In the same way that the cogito was self-evident, so too is the existence of God, as his perfect idea of a perfect being could not have been caused by anything less than a perfect being. On the extreme opposite end of the scale is complete nothingness, which is also the most evil state possible. Thus, humans are an intermediary between these two extremes, being less "real" or "good" than God, but more "real" and "good" than nothingness.
Thus, error as a part of evil is not a positive reality, it is only the absence of what is correct. In this way, its existence is allowed within the context of a perfectly inerrant God. I find that I am "intermediate" between God and nothingness, between the supreme entity and nonentity. I thus understand that, in itself, error is a lack, rather than a real thing dependent on God.
Rather, I fall into error because my God-given ability to judge the truth is not infinite. Descartes also concedes two points that might allow for the possibility of his ability to make errors. First, he notes that it is very possible that his limited knowledge prevents him from understanding why God chose to create him so he could make mistakes. If he could see the things that God could see, with a complete and infinite scope, perhaps he would judge his ability to err as the best option.
He uses this point to attack the Aristotelian structure of causes. The final cause described by Aristotle are the "what for" of an object, but Descartes claims that because he is unable to comprehend completely the mind of God, it is impossible to understand completely the " why " through science — only the "how".
Secondly, he considers the possibility that an apparent error at the individual level could be understood within the totality of creation as error free. For something that seems imperfect when viewed alone might seem completely perfect when regarded as having a place in the world. Lastly, Meditation IV attributes the source of error to a discrepancy between two divine gifts: understanding and free will. Understanding is given in an incomplete form, while will by nature can only be either completely given or not given at all.
When he is presented with a certain amount of understanding and then chooses to act outside of that , he is in error. Thus, the gifts of God understanding and will both remain good and only the incorrect usage by him remains as error.
But, if I either affirm or deny in a case of this sort, I misuse my freedom of choice. In these misuses of freedom of choice lies the deprivation that accounts for error. Before asking whether any such objects exist outside me, I ought to consider the ideas of these objects as they exist in my thoughts and see which are clear and which confused. Descartes separates external objects into those that are clear and distinct and those that are confused and obscure.
The former group consists of the ideas of extension , duration and movement. These geometrical ideas cannot be misconstrued or combined in a way that makes them false. For example, if the idea of a creature with the head of a giraffe , the body of a lion and tail of a beaver was constructed and the question asked if the creature had a large intestine, the answer would have to be invented. But, no mathematical re-arrangement of a triangle could allow its three internal angles to sum to anything but degrees.
Thus, Descartes perceived that truths may have a nature or essence of themselves, independent of the thinker. While I have some control over my thoughts of these things, I do not make the things up: they have their own real and immutable natures.
Suppose, for example, that I have a mental image of a triangle. While thinking about the independence of these ideas of external objects, Descartes realizes that he is just as certain about God as he is about these mathematical ideas. He uses the example of a mountain and a valley. Simply put, the argument is framed as follows: God is defined as an infinitely perfect being.
Perfection includes existence. So God exists. This ontological argument originated in the work of St. Anselm , the medieval Scholastic philosopher and theologian. With a confirmed existence of God, all doubt that what one previously thought was real and not a dream can be removed. Having made this realization, Descartes asserts that without this sure knowledge in the existence of a supreme and perfect being, assurance of any truth is impossible.
Thus I plainly see that the certainty and truth of all my knowledge derives from one thing: my thought of the true God.
But now I can plainly and certainly know innumerable things, not only about God and other mental beings, but also about the nature of physical objects, insofar as it is the subject-matter of pure mathematics. First, he asserts that such objects can exist simply because God is able to make them. Therefore, our assumption of the physical world outside of ourselves in non theoretical sense.
Insofar as they are the subject of pure mathematics, I now know at least that they can exist, because I grasp them clearly and distinctly. For God can undoubtedly make whatever I can grasp in this way, and I never judge that something is impossible for Him to make unless there would be a contradiction in my grasping the thing distinctly.
Knowing that the existence of such objects is possible, Descartes then turns to the prevalence of mental images as proof. To do this, he draws a distinction between imagination and understanding—imagination being a non-linguistic "faculty of knowledge to the body which is immediately present to it [ And this is what I call having a mental image.
Thus I observe that a special effort of mind is necessary to the act of imagination, which is not required to conceiving or understanding ad intelligendum ; and this special exertion of mind clearly shows the difference between imagination and pure intellection imaginatio et intellectio pura.
At this point, he has only shown that their existence could conveniently explain this mental process. To obtain this proof, he first reviews his premises for the Meditations — that the senses cannot be trusted and what he is taught "by nature" does not have much credence.
However, he views these arguments within a new context; after writing Meditation I, he has proved the existence of himself and of a perfect God. Thus, Descartes jumps quickly to proofs of the division between the body and mind and that material things exist: Proof for the body being distinct from the mind It is possible for God to create anything I can clearly and distinctly perceive.
If God creates something to be independent of another, they are distinct from each other. I clearly and distinctly understand my existence as a thinking thing which does not require the existence of a body. So God can create a thinking thing independently of a body. I clearly and distinctly understand my body as an extended thing which does not require a mind.
So God can create a body independently of a mind. So my mind is a reality distinct from my body. So I a thinking thing can exist without a body. Proof of the reality of external material things I have a "strong inclination" to believe in the reality of external material things due to my senses.
God must have created me with this nature. If independent material things do not exist, God is a deceiver. But God is not a deceiver. So material things exist and contain the properties essential to them. After using these two arguments to dispel solipsism and skepticism , Descartes seems to have succeeded in defining reality as being in three parts: God infinite , minds, and material things both finite.
He closes by addressing natural phenomena that might appear to challenge his philosophy, such as phantom limbs , dreams, and dropsy. Objections and replies[ edit ] Descartes submitted his manuscript to many philosophers, theologians and a logician before publishing the Meditations. Their objections and his replies many of which are quite extensive were included in the first publication of the Meditations. In the Preface to the Meditations, Descartes asks the reader "not to pass judgment on the Meditations until they have been kind enough to read through all these objections and my replies to them.
The seven objectors were, in order of the sets as they were published : The Dutch theologian Johannes Caterus Johan de Kater — first set of objections. We have no clear idea of an infinite Being 1st, 2nd, and 5th objections. Objections to the epistemology : A. How can we be sure that what we think is a clear and distinct perception really is clear and distinct 3rd, 5th?
Objections to philosophy of mind : A. Ideas are always imagistic 3rd , so we have no idea of thinking substance non-image idea.
Elisabeth of Bohemia also corresponded with Descartes on the Meditations. The first two meditations, which employed the skeptical methodic doubt and concluded that only the ego and its thoughts are indubitable, have had a huge impact in the history of philosophy.
HATFIELD DESCARTES AND THE MEDITATIONS PDF
Discovering the nature of mind 5. In this Routledge Philosophy GuideBook, Gary Hatfield guides the reader through the text of the Meditations, providing commentary and analysis throughout. Tom rated it really liked it Nov 10, Schmaltz emditations — Oup Usa. Oliver Sanderson-nichols rated it it was ok Mar 28, Tim rated it liked it Apr 13, Jessica rated it it was amazing Jun 10, Nargiz Lineker rated it it was amazing May 01, Tortoasa rated it it was amazing Oct 21, Laura rated it really liked it Jun 10, This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Published November 12th by Routledge first published September 19th No trivia or quizzes yet.
The Routledge Guidebook to Descartes' Meditations
Descartes and the Meditations (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks)