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The Rationalists: Descartes Certainty: Self and God PowerPoint Presentation
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The Rationalists: Descartes Certainty: Self and God

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The Rationalists: Descartes Certainty: Self and God

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  1. The Rationalists: Descartes Certainty: Self and God Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  2. Meditation 2: • The Cogito • I am a thinking thing • The piece of Wax • Conclusion Outline Meditation 3: • A general rule for truth: clear and distinct ideas • The existence of God (Proof 1) Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  3. Summing up: Doubt: Radical, Hyperbolic, Methodological No source of knowledge passed the test : senses – dream argument, reason – evil genius Doubtful hence considered as false: External world, personal body, rational truths Meditation 2: Introduction Meditation 2: Look at the title!! “Concerning the Nature of the Human Mind: That it is Better Known than the Body” Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  4. Prospect for research: Certainty in any case One single certainty would be enough: Archimedes Meditation 2 – The Cogito The Cogito: 1. Resists the Evil Genius Argument 2. Problems with interpretation: - Inference or limit of the doubt - genuine intellectual and subjective experience The Cogito is a Subjective Truth Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  5. Question of Method: How am I to figure out what I am? Meditation 2 – I am a thinking thing 1. Against Definitions 2. The method of Doubt is universal – apply it here ! What did I used to think I am: 1. An well known body 2. Equipped with an incomprehensible soul • This is the scholastic view! • How does it face the doubt? Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  6. What am I? Meditation 2 – I am a thinking thing 1. Not my body 2. A thinking thing ! Problem of interpretation: Thing = substance? What is a thinking thing? Broad definition: any mental activity (anything not body like), including sensations ! • Descartes’ paradox: Subjectivity is the road to truth! Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  7. The point of the passage: Look at the conclusion!! Meditation 2 – The piece of wax But I need to realize that the perception of the wax is neither a seeing, nor a touching, nor an imagining. Nor has it ever been, even though it previously seem so; rather it is an inspection on the part of the mind alone [...]. (33) • So: the point of the passage: We know things through the understanding, not through our senses and imagination • Descartes is making an epistemological point Problem: how is this relevant to the claim that we know our mind better than our body? Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  8. Argument: P1: The piece of wax can change; P2: But what we call the piece of wax is still the same; CC1: there is something I know of the wax which remains the same when the piece of wax undergoes changes; Unstated Premise: only unchanging aspects of something constitute what I know truly of it; P3: the sensitive qualities do not remain CC2: the sensitive qualities are not what the piece of wax as I truly know it; P4: what remains is that it is extended, flexible and mutable; CC3: Instead, I truly know as the piece of wax truly as: extended, flexible and mutable Meditation 2 – The piece of wax Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  9. With which faculty do I know the piece of wax? Meditation 2 – The piece of wax • - Not the senses • - Not the imagination • - Perception of the mind Generalization: • Any sensation in fact relies on a judgment of understanding • Example: hats in the street • We know everything through the understanding Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  10. Do I know my mind better than my body? Meditation 2 – The piece of wax • - It does not seem to follow: distinction faculty / object: • I know better with my mind ≠ I know my mind better • - Possible hidden premise: • I know better what is distinct – i.e. of an unmixed nature • Descartes has not shown his main claim Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  11. The Cogito: One single certainty as a subjective evidence Meditation 2 – Conclusion Problem with the Cogito: thinking thing and substance The piece of wax: our mind takes part in the entirety of knowledge, even the perception of sensible particulars Problem with the piece of wax: we haven’t shown that we know our mind better than our body, unless further assumptions are made. Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  12. Meditation 2: • The Cogito • I am a thinking thing • The piece of Wax • Conclusion Outline Meditation 3: • A general rule for truth: clear and distinct ideas • The existence of God (Proof 1) Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  13. Meditation 3: Introduction Summing up: One single certainty Importance of the Mind Meditation 3: Look at the title: “Concerning God; That He Exists” Why proving the existence of God???? Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  14. General rule: Everything that I very clearly and very distinctly perceive is true Meditation 3 – Clear and Distinct Ideas Argument • I am certain that I am a thinking thing • There is nothing that assures of this proposition is true except a clear and distinct perception of it • Hence, I can be certain of everything that I perceive in the same way, that is, clearly and distinctively • Truth does not take anything more than • a clear and distinct idea Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  15. Meditation 3 – Why do we need God? Clear and Distinct ideas: 1. Certain at the moment of the intuition 2. Doubtful when attention turned to Evil Genius • Clear and Distinct Intuition = criterion of actual truth • We need a truthful God for eternal truths • Descartes will try to prove: (1) That God exists and (2) That He is truthful Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  16. Meditation 3 – That God Exists Descartes discusses the origin of our Ideas: Why? 1. we are stuck in our minds 2. what if we had an idea which requires that something else exist? • This idea is going to be the idea of God Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  17. Meditation 3 – That God Exists First round: Do my ideas correspond to external things? 1. Three kinds of ideas: innate, adventitious, fictitious 2. What do I used to believe that adventitious ideas come from external things? a. Nature taught me? natural impulses = truth? b. Independent of my will? Another faculty than will? c. Resemblance with external objects? Sun!? • Dead end! We are still stuck… Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  18. Second round: The argument from the objective reality of ideas Meditation 3 – That God Exists 1. Three kinds of reality for ideas: a. Material reality – all ideas are equally made of thought b. Formal reality – ideas all differ in terms of what they represent c. Objective reality – ideas differ in terms of the degree of reality of their object Idea of God: greatest objective reality • Be careful: • Objective reality of the idea ≠ Reality of the object Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  19. Second round: The argument from the objective reality of ideas Meditation 3 – That God Exists (1. Three kinds of reality for ideas) 2. I cannot be the cause of the idea of God a. Causal Principle – appeal to natural light b. Two kinds of object for my ideas: (1) composite, (2) corporeal substances, (3) God c. I can be the cause of (1) and (2) c. I cannot be the cause of (3) • I cannot be the cause of my idea of the actual infinite Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  20. Third round: God as the cause of my existence Descartes’ cosmological argument Meditation 3 – That God Exists 1. Candidates: (1) Myself, (2) my parents or anything less than God, (3) God 2. Hyp (1): No, or else I could not conceive of my imperfections 3. Objection: what if I have always exited? No, because persistence in time is as demanding as creation (!) 4. Hyp (2): No, for otherwise infinite regress • God is the first cause which causes itself Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  21. The third meditation provides us with: 1. A general rule for finding actual truth : clear and distinct intuitions Meditation 3 – Conclusion 2. Proofs that God exists, in order to secure the persistence of the truth of clear and distinct intuitions: (1) From the objective reality of the idea of the infinite (2) As the first non contingent cause of contingent existence • God appears in this meditation as the “mark of the craftsman impressed upon his work” • If God can be shown not to be a deceiver, then we’re good for rational truths! Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana