Rene Descartes was known as the leading contemporary scientist of Europe. During his lifetime, he was famous for the mathematical and mechanistic accounts that explored the fields of physics, cosmology, optics, physiology and biology. But merely a few decades after he passed away, his scientific systems were completely forgotten. But despite all this, Descartes still remains one of the widely read personalities of his age; the reason being not his scientific legacy but the developments of philosophy by him (Descartes). Yet the most significant works of Descartes include his proves about the existence of God and further study on the creation of God that is the human beings and their nature of error. These two works have been identified and discussed in the paper below.
Descartes is famous for the original arguments that he produced as a proof of the existence of God. These arguments tend to play a significant role in his Meditations on First Philosophy, as they allow him to reach the conclusion that something really existed beyond himself. After realizing his own thinking capabilities, Descartes started wondering about the clear and distinct perceptions and knowledge that he possessed. He set out to prove that God exists by proving that the cause behind all perceptions is God who is perfect and does not deceive. At least two arguments were given by Rene Descartes regarding the existence of God: First is the ontological argument that states: “the basic idea of God is of a perfect being which is more perfect to exist than not to exist and so, God must exist” (Descartes et al.).
Second argument is based on cosmological argument that distinct the two types of realities. “Formal reality has three grades: infinite, finite, and mode” (Descartes). Only God has infinite formal reality while all other substances have finite formal reality (Descartes). Any idea is a mode of mind and hence, has a modal formal reality. According to Descartes, everyone has an innate idea that God is an infinite being. So, there has to be infinite objective reality of this idea. Further, Descartes makes another appeal that nothing cannot result in something: there has to be some reality in a cause as in an effect and so, the cause of an idea would have some formal reality considering that the idea has an objective reality (Descartes, Miller and Miller). Since we have an idea about God which is an infinite objective reality, then it can be concluded that some being with infinite formal reality must have caused this idea so, God exists.
Considering both the arguments given by Descartes about the existence of God, I find the ontological argument quiet faulty; it is a common argument that has been presented several times in the history as “Plato, Socrates, Leibniz and even Baruch Spinoza presented their distinct versions of the ontological argument about the existence of God” (Descartes). The ontological argument is simple with no formal proof. This is more like a psychological process where one intuits that God exists. On the other hand, if we deny the existence of God completely, then the attributes of a supremely perfect being belong to nobody which again raises confusion. Since, Descartes has used the existence of God to prove that clear and distinct ideas are reliable, he is making use of the circular reasoning. But the problem is that the central idea given by Descartes that everyone has an innate idea about God being the infinite perfection is not correct (CRUMPLIN). Only those people comply by this idea who have been raised with this belief.
As Descartes believed that God is not a deceiver then how could it be possible that human beings make mistakes? He shows that the error made by the humans occurs only when judgments are formed regarding the unclear and vague perceptions. If the humans make sure to only accept those perceptions that are clear and distinct then the error would never occur. Actually, this theory or argument is clearly linked with the proof of the existence of God. He believes that perfections are not accompanied by imperfections and as God is perfect being, He does not have any motive of imperfections or to deceive (Descartes). There is no link of how God made us to how and why the humans make errors. “God is perfect and created human perfectly; He even gave his creation an infinite will so that everyone may act voluntarily and be accountable for their own actions” (Descartes). Further, he also gave the humans understanding or the capability to identify the perceptions that are distinct and clear but understanding is finite (Hughes and Harding).
The humans fall between the Supreme Being and non-being so, the human error is not linked with the Supreme Being or God as it would make God an imperfect being. The errors made by humans are dependent upon will and intellect of the humans. The intellect or understanding of the humans is the source of the mistakes made by the humans. The problem is that due to own intellect, the human make possible judgments about perceiving ideas. Actually, the scope of will is infinite while that of understanding or intellect is finite; so the will can judge anything at all but the intellect cannot understand everything. So, the problem arises when the human intellect fails to perceive everything (Descartes et al.). As there are confused perceptions about the things through intellect, the will affirms those confused perceptions. And this finally results in humans making errors.
I personally agree with Descartes to the extent about why humans tend to make mistakes considering that this is not a God-like nature to commit errors. But since, humans are merely a creation of God, there has to be some distinction and some essence of imperfection too because the only Supreme Being is God himself. God is the perfect being and has created humans with will and intellect to decide upon what they are to act upon in their life. With finite levels of understanding, the humans tend to make their own perceptions. As they have free will, they are not bound to accept what others say is right for them. So, they decide based on their own will whatever way they would use their intellect to judge things. And this is why errors are caused. I find this argument convincing because there is no other way that a human would commit a mistake if he did not possess any free will. As far as the argument concerning the existence of God is taken into consideration, I am convinced that all the cosmology has been created by some supreme being who is responsible for everything that is caused around humans. But with the free will, the humans act voluntarily and sometimes this is against what God has told them to do.
CRUMPLIN, MARY-ANN. 'Descartes: God as the Idea Of Infinity'. International Journal of Systematic Theology 10.1 (2008): 3-20. Web.
Descartes, Rene, Valentine Rodger Miller, and Reese P Miller. Principles of Philosophy. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel, 1983. Print.
Descartes, Rene et al. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Print.
Descartes, Rene. 'RENE DESCARTES (1595â€“1650)'. ANS 16.03 (2009): 110-118. Web.
Hughes, T., and K. Harding. 'Descartes' Error'. Practical Neurology 14.3 (2014): 201-201. Web.