Upon feeling a value that is independent

Upon cursory examination, one might assume that Rene Descartes is a”non-believer” in the existence of a heavenly being, a God that presides
over humans and gives us faith. However, this is simply not the case
Descartes is simply trying to destroy all of the uncertainties that have come
about by the attempted scientific explanations of such a supreme being. For Rene
Descartes and all of the other believers in the world, the existence of God
provides a convenient answer to unexplained questions, while never providing
answers to the questions about God himself. This is evidenced a great deal in
the circular argument made by Descartes in the Meditations on First Philosophy.

What follows is a brief account of the third and fifth meditations, which
provide Descartes response to the masked question, “What is God?” Can one
perceive or confirm the existence of an idea that is external to him, an idea
such as God? In order to determine the answer we must start by understanding the
ways in which we can conclude an objects existence. Descartes explains three
ways in which a person might come to such a conclusion the first, through
nature; the second, through feeling a value that is independent of the will of
the object; and the third, the objective reality of an idea, or the “cause and
effect profile.” The third point is the one that we will primarily spend our
time with. Descartes drills us with the idea that an object will have an effect
when it stems from a legitimate cause, or an initial idea that precedes with
equal or superior properties in ones intellect. In other words, the mind
generates thoughts and ideas about a physical form, and develops a reality for
this form, through previous schema and beliefs. “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.” The only problem with Descartes argument is when the existence
of God arises as a notion, for there is no sustenance or idea for the notion of
God to originate from. Is it possible, then, to create the idea of a finite
being from an infinite existence, outside of the physical and mental, in a state
all of its own? Descartes quickly answers that the response would be that a
finite being cannot completely, if at all, comprehend the ideas that would cause
God to exist, and therefore the basis for doubt is lost in an intangible proof.

Additionally, the mere fact that he believes that there is a God provides yet
another piece of proof towards His existence. This must be true, according to
Descartes, with the provision that the idea and belief must have been placed in
his consciousness by an outside factor. The final factor that convinces
Descartes that there is a God is the fact of his own existence, along with the
fact that he, himself, is not a God. This belief stems from the theory that if a
man is independent from all other existence and ideas about forms and matter,
then he has the ability to become infinite. Descartes says that if he himself
were the “author of his own being” and independent of all existence, then he
would attain a Godly level of existence. Ultimately, it is his own dependence on
another being that proves to him that there is a God. Many people are bred into
religion, or borne into a set of ideas about a particular infinite being. The
interesting problem with most types of faith in this manner is that the
scripture that has been deemed to come from your god is also the proof that God
exists. This is the type of circular definition that Descartes is trying to
avoid at all costs. Basically, its like using a word in its own
definition, or the definition of an apple is an apple. The argument begins
to get a little bit ambiguous when he begins discussing the uncertainty of his
beliefs. He is, as he claims, as certain of the idea of the sun, the moon, the
earth, even his own rational though, as he is certain of Gods existence. The
most troubling part of the entire section is the understanding of formal and
objective reality. Remember his theory that existence is perfection. To
understand that to have an idea is to exist is one case, but take for instance
the man whom can think, just as someone thinks of God, of a being so absolutely
imperfect, clearly and distinctly, that it does not exist. However, according to
Descartes, since it has an objective reality, it must follow that it also must
have a formal reality as well. Clearly, this is an impossibility which I have
yet to ascertain to the fullest degree. Ayn Rands The Fountainhead creates
within it a hero who is so independent that he ceases to exist within the public
eye however, he never ceases to exist, as he ends up clearly being dependant
on his own belief of something greater. Whether Rand shared Descartes view on
the existence of God is uncertain, however can be applied to the entire
argument. If one is without an idea to back him up, one ceases to exist but
who created the idea of the being in the first place? And further, who created
and implanted within all beings the existence of a higher, more defined, and
more perfect being? It is through this logic that Descartes attempts, rather
unsuccessfully in my mind, to prove that the existence of God is not a rare leap
of faith but rather a certainty in its own perfect, unquestionable and
ultimately non-comprehensible way. He was certainly arrogant, though, in his
thoughts and writings, though, ascribing characteristics to a being that he
himself will never understand fully. In my mind, Descartes exceeded in many
parts of his argument, but failed to prove from a logical standpoint the
existence of a higher being. We, as humans, will take to heart his ideals, but
will continue to work on leaps of faith and the prescribed scriptures and
circular definitions of our own religions.

Descartes, Meditations on the First Philosophy, Hackett Publishing Co.

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