DESCARTES (Meditation III) First Causal Proof
Descartes says that the purpose of Meditation III is to prove
that there is a God who is not evil--who is not a deceiver.
Why does he say he has to prove this?
What is his proof for the existence of God?
a. For his starting point, what is the one thing that Descartes is certain
1. I am (certain that I am) a thinking substance.
b. What are the 3 types or classifications of thoughts that we have? (Which
types lead to error?)
2. (Therefore) I have thoughts.
3. My thoughts may be classified as:
c. What are the 3 classifications of ideas?
a) ideas (like images of things) - in themselves, not false
b) volition or emotions - when I will or when I affirm, I am
really willing or affirming--i.e., in themselves, they are true
c) judgments - ONLY THIS leads to error about what is outside
4. My ideas, as such, are true.
d. How do some ideas DIFFER from others?
My ideas can be classified as:
a) innate - I understand what a thing is, what truth is, what
b) derived from an external source - I hear a noise or see the
c) produced by me - sirens, hippogriffs [sphinxes]
5. Some ideas DIFFER from others, depending on what they represent
e. What does reason tell us about causes ("efficient causes") and effects?
What conclusions can we draw from this about how things come to be or come
some represent substances. These have more content [objective
reality] than those which represent "modes"`or "accidents"
the idea of God has more content in it than ideas of any finite
6. reason tells us that "there must be as much reality in the
total efficient cause as there is in the effect of the same cause"
f. What can we conclude from this about where an idea gets its content
[objective reality] from?
BECAUSE the cause cannot give that reality to the effect UNLESS
the cause also has that reality
e.g., something cannot come into existence from nothing
e.g., what is more perfect (contains more reality) CANNOT come
into existence from what is less perfect
e.g., a thing cannot become hot unless there is something hot
that heats it
this principle is true for all things, real and ideal
7. THUS, when it comes to ideas-- an idea gets its content [objective
reality] from a cause in which there is at least the same amount of reality
[formal reality] as the effect
g. What is the definition of "God"?
because, otherwise, the idea would get it from nothing
8. THEREFORE, my ideas can't contain anything more perfect than their
9. If the content [objective reality] of one of my ideas is such that
I am certain that the same reality is not formally or eminently in me,
or that I myself can be the cause of that idea, THEN the cause of this
idea exists and I am not alone in the world
10. I have an idea of God [God df= an infinite and independent substance,
intelligent and more powerful in the highest degree, who is a creator]
h. Why can't I myself be the cause of the idea of God?
11. The content of the idea of God is not formally or eminently in me.
12. I myself cannot be the cause of the idea of God--these qualities
(infinite substance) could not have arisen from myself alone.
i. What can we conclude from this about the cause of the idea of God?
13. The cause of the idea of God exists
14. Since the Causal Principle is true
reason tells us that "there must be as much reality in the total
efficient cause as there is in the effect of the same cause
15. Therefore, the cause of the idea of God must [necessarily] be an
infinite and independent substance, intelligent and more powerful in the
highest degree, who is a creator]
16. Therefore: God necessarily exists