Existence of God

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Existence of God by Mind Map: Existence of God

1. Fifth Meditation

1.1. With regard to God, in the 3rd Med, D argued, primarily, that the essence of God is of a being who is supremely perfect, infinite, eternal, immutable, independent, powerful, etc.

1.1.1. The idea of God captures the essential nature of God. D then argued that God exists, by arguing the idea of God that captures this essence must have God himself as a cause.

1.2. In the 5th Med, D returns to topics of matter and God. As with the 2nd Med, D considers the essence of matter. As with the 3rd Med, D considers both the essence and existence of God, but with a new twist.

1.2.1. D argues that the essence of God can't be known without knowing that God exists: God is a being whose essence implies his existence = Ontological argument for God's existence.


1.3.1. D asks whether any certainty can be achieved regarding material objects', and the certainties he discovers in this Med, concern geometry.

1.3.2. Has distinct idea of continuous quantity: something extended in space can be measured in length, bredth, depth, etc. All of these ideas of extension are agreeable to mathematical treatment.

1.3.3. D concludes that one indeed can achieve a kind of certainty with regard to material things. Maths and geometry provide certainties that pass the test of clarity and distinctness.

1.3.4. These reflections about the truth derivable from mathematical concepts lead D to consider again the concept of God, and to ask what truths may be derivable from that concept...


1.4.1. This proof of God’s existence does not depend on any claims about causality: it does not depend, for example, on the Principle of Causal Adequacy described in the Third Meditation. God’s existence is deduced from his essence as directly as the properties of a triangle are deduced from its essence.

1.4.2. D argues that God’s existence is deducible from the idea of his nature just as the fact that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles is deducible from the idea of the nature of a triangle. The point is that this property is contained in the nature of a triangle, and so it is inseparable from that nature. Accordingly, the nature of a triangle without this property is unintelligible. Similarly, it is apparent that the idea of God is that of a supremely perfect being, that is, a being with all perfections to the highest degree. Actual existence is a perfection, at least insofar as most would agree that it is better to actually exist than not.

1.4.3. The idea of a supremely perfect being or God without existence is unintelligible. This means that existence is contained in the essence of an infinite substance, and therefore God must exist by his very nature. Any attempt to conceive of God as not existing cannot be done.


1.5.1. IDEAS OF THINGS: To investigate material things, analyse ideas about them, which involves extension, numbers, and duration, and also particular details about each individual object.

1.5.2. THE TRIANGLE: Among the ideas he finds many which are pure ideas, such as the triangle. They are not invented by him, and have properties which can be discovered, such as the triangle having internal angles adding up to two right angles.

1.5.3. TRIANGLES INNATE: Triangles didn't enter his mind from outside, because he can think of infinitely many triangles, but can only have experienced a few of them; they must, though, have real existence in his mind, because they are clear and distinct, and hence true.

1.5.4. PERFECT BEING: Just as his mind contains the idea of triangles, so it also contains the idea of a supremely perfect being, and he can discover many unexpected features of this being, just as he did with the triangle

1.5.5. EXISTENCE IS ESSENTIALl: Because the being he is thinking of is 'supremely perfect', it must have the characteristic of real existence, just as triangles contain two right angles, and the idea of a mountain is inseparable from the idea of a valley.

1.5.6. NO INVENTION: The idea that God must have existence is not an invention, like a horse having wings, because it is simply impossible to clearly conceive of a supremely perfect being without conceiving of him as also existing.

1.5.7. PERFECTION REQUIRED: It is not possible to avoid the argument by denying perfection to the idea of God, because this characteristic is unavoidable and part of an innate idea; clearly existence is a perfection, and so God has to exist.

1.5.8. UNIQUENESS OF GOD: He cannot conceive of anything else which has existence as a necessary feature (and would thus also have to exist), and this perfect being must also clearly be unique, and also eternal.

1.5.9. CLARITY OF UNDERSTANDING: At first the necessity of God's existence may not be obvious, but then Pythagoras' Theorem is not obvious at first, but is clear and distinct once it is grasped, and God's necessity is as clear as that, once it has been realised.

1.5.10. TRUTH NEEDS GOD: Although he accepts as true anything which he clearly and distinctly conceives, he could not trust himself and would slip back into doubt if God, who is no deceiver, did not guarantee these proofs, and his memories of past proofs - even in dreams.

2. Introduction

2.1. 1596-1650

2.2. Regarded as the founder of modern philosophy.

2.3. Wrote 'Meditations' at a time when people where looking for answers. It was clear that appealing to authority wouldn't do.

2.3.1. Therefore the Med's argue that truths are not to be accepted on the basis of authority; that nothing can be taken for granted.

2.3.2. Instead, each individual has the resources within oneself to raise questions on knowledge and discover the answers.

3. Third Meditation - The First Argument

3.1. Makes use of scholastic metaphysical concepts and principles.

3.2. Presents 2 problems

3.2.1. 1) The concepts and principles = unfamiliar and archaic. However, it is interesting and important and CAN be understood.

3.2.2. 2) It's not obvious that D is entitled to these metaphysical assumptions. Is it not supposed to be doubting everything but the indubitable?

3.3. This Med presents the TRADEMARK ARGUMENT because the thinker's idea of God is described as if it were a trademark that the creator has left in his creature.

3.3.1. "It is no surprise that God, in creating me, should have placed this idea in me to be, as it were, the mark of the craftsman stamped on his work."

4. Critique


4.1.1. Although agreeing that existence is self evident, REJECTS the idea that it can be derived from idea or concept alone, ie: objective reality, as people have different concepts on God.

4.1.2. AND OTHERS, eg: Gaurilo, see D's argument as illogical in the way that he jumps from mental existence to actual existence.

4.2. KANT

4.2.1. Existence isn't a property or predicate - it does not add anything to the concept of a thing - "merely the positing of a thing" which just establishes that there is an object that answers to the idea of God.

5. Background

5.1. The first 2 arguments are sceptical and threatened all knowledge but knowledge of self - which is provided in the cogito. In the 3rd Med, the thinker turns to question God.

5.1.1. "I must examine whether there is a God, and, if there is, whether he can be a deceiver. For if I do not know this, it seems that I can never be quite certain about anything else"

5.2. Descartes believes that he can prove the existence of God.

5.3. Knowledge of God = the foundation of all knowledge rather than immediate self-knowledge.

5.4. Two independent arguments for existence of God are given in the Med's: One in Med 3 and the other in Med 5...


6.1. The thinking begins by reflecting on the mind (whose existence D has proven)

6.1.1. D has ideas: - innate - adventitious - some invented by me Can be considered in terms of their 'formal reality' (AS MENTAL STATES) or their 'objective reality' (AS REPRESENTATIONAL CONTENT) The thinker applies this distinction to the case of God.

6.2. We can know the essence of God just as we could know the essence of material things just by reflecting on our concepts.

6.2.1. We can know the essence of God but does he exist?

6.2.2. We know that God has 'objective' reality as the object of my concept/idea: but does God have formal reality as well?

6.2.3. According to the Trademark Argument: God exists. God has formal reality as well as 'objective' reality.

6.3. The thinker focuses on a question about causality. What is the cause of this idea that one has of God? According to the thinker, it is self-evident.

6.3.1. As a general principle: "There must be at least as much reality in the efficient and total cause as in the effect of that cause"


6.4.1. (D claimed that the cause of an object must contain at least as much reality as the object itself)

6.4.2. D applied CAP to the idea of God: The idea of God has an infinitely high degree of objectively reality. It's cause can't be myself because I am imperfect, finite, deceived. The only possible cause is God himself. God, "in creating me [has] placed this idea in me to be...the mark of the craftsman stamped on his work"

6.4.3. The thinker concludes that God exists. Moreover, since the concept of God is the concept of an infinitely perfect being, the thinker reaches a conclusion which will prove to be vital for the progress of the next Meditations: God exists, and is not a deceiver. "By ‘God’ I mean...the possessor of all the perfections...who is subject to no defects whatsoever. It is clear enough from this that he cannot be a deceiver, since it is manifest by the natural light that all fraud and deception depend on some defect"