Critically Discuss One of the Arguments Used by Descartes to Demonstrate the Existence of God.

History of Philosophy I


Critically discuss one of the arguments used by Descartes to demonstrate the existence of God.

"Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not"[1]
This statement by the sophist Protagoras summarizes to an extent (and not regarding the interpretation of Relativism that it was given) the basis of Descartes reasoning and especially the first two Meditations well only if one applies the following change to it: Replace the word man for thought (which in Descartes’ definition of the word represents all consciousness). As a simplified summary, it is through thinking that he comes to the conclusion that he exists and it is because of thinking that he knows that his existence is a certainty. With this basis of his reasoning, the thought as “the measure of all things”, he then tries in the third Meditation to prove the existence of God by emanating from the idea of God he has.
      He comes to the conclusion that the “Idea of God” can’t be adventitious as things obtained through the senses normally come suddenly whereas he was always aware of this Idea of God. Neither can it be invented by himself because firstly it seems unchangeable (“And it was not invented by me either; for I am plainly unable either to take away anything from it or to add anything to it”)[2] and secondly and more importantly because in order to produce such an “Idea” of perfectness and infinity of the highest degree of objective reality the producer himself must have such a high degree of eminent reality. The producer must be actually (and not potentially) infinite, which Descartes is obviously not and so it could only have been God that produced and placed this idea in him. Therefore it is innate, a thought I would like to underline and take further with an anthropologic remark.
      Examining different cultures and different stages of the human evolution one can in every case observe the...