Can One Perceive Or Confirm The Existence

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.



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