Of An Idea Or Object That Is External
To Him Mainly – God? Essay, Research Paper
Can One Perceive Or Confirm The Existence Of An Idea Or Object That Is External
To Him Mainly – God?
“I think therefore I am.” Man wills, refuses, perceives, understands,
and denies many principles. As explained by Rene’ Descartes, man is a thinking
thing, a conscious being who truthfully exists because he is certain that it is
so. All that man perceives is internally present and not external to him or his
mind. The focal point of the third meditation that must be dealt with is: Can
one perceive or confirm the existence of an idea or object that is external to
him mainly – God?
There are three ways, Descartes explains, that one may come to the
conclusion of an objects existence. The first is through nature. The second is
through feeling an object independent of one’s will, for example; heat and cold.
The third, and most elaborated upon is the point of cause and effect, or more
simply, the objective reality of an idea. We will primarily deal with the third
reason of cause and effect.
Descartes brings some examples to demonstrate his cause and effect
theory. More importantly, is the logic that lies behind the actual theory. The
rationale that an object will have an effect is only if it stems from a
legitimate cause. A stone, for example, cannot be perceived accurately if there
isn’t an initial idea preceding with equal or superior properties in one’s
intellect. The mind generates ideas and develops reality through previous
schema or beliefs as Descartes states:
“And although an idea may give rise to another idea, this
regress cannot, nevertheless, be infinite;we must in the
end reach a first idea, the cause of which is, as it were,
the archetype in which all the reality that is found
objectively in these ideas is contained formally.”
Additionally, properties such as color, sound, heat, and cold are too
complex in their nature for Descartes to determine whether they are true or
false. In other words, are the ideas that one has about a property true or
false? Consequently, Descartes concludes that there is a common element between
examples like the stone and the cold. The cold portraying the unreal or false
object and the stone as a true object. He contends that they both contain
“substance” like man himself, and are therefore similar.
The only difficulty that arises is the consideration of God’s existence.
There is no substance or idea for the notion of God to originate from. The
valid question that Descartes asks is: Is it conceivable that a finite being
have the idea of an infinite existence?
We can understand from Descartes writings that he believes in a God.
God is unspeakably great, eternal, independent, and all knowing. What Descartes
deduces is that the nature of an infinite existence cannot be comprehended by a
finite being. Subsequently, by the fact that he believes there is a God is
proof for his existence. The idea was placed there by an outside factor. He
further states that if man is independent of all other existence then he has
the potential to reach to become infinite. This in turn, lead Descartes to say
that if he was the author of his own being and independent of all existence,
then he would be God. By that matter, it is all these points collectively that
indicate to Descartes that he is dependant on another being, that is a God.
It can be argued, very briefly, that Descartes assertion about God is
slightly contradictory. As I stated earlier, an object is perceived in the mind
as long as there are equal or superior properties in the mind. His rests his
whole argument on the basis that one cannot fully grasp or fathom the existence
of God logically. It is obvious that his perception is doubtful in the first
place. There is a lot more material to be covered before I can honestly sever
Descartes’ whole argument, but this is my opinion on the third meditation.