Descartes Divine Guarantee of Knowledge

Descartes Descartes address the idea of divine guarantee in the fourth and fifth mediation. By this time Descartes has passed the senses and objects, instead settling on the mind and God. When only focusing on ideas, Descartes finds his doubts and recognizes that there must be something doubting which he concludes to be himself.

Descartes recognizes that the appearance of doubt in his mind means he is in some way incomplete and dependent. This gives Descartes the “clear and distinct” idea of god who is independent and complete. Clear and distinct ideas are things that don’t need a logical backing because they strike so simply as being. For example when I look at a color and recognize that it is red. I don’t try and find a chain of reasons to confirm that its red as rather then it being lets say blue. It is just red. These are called clear and distinct ideas.

With the existence of clear and distinct idea Descartes can infer that god is real and Descartes continual existence is directly related to god. All knowledge is found in God because of his independence and completeness. God cant lie because of his perfection. While the tricky show intelligence, it also shows weakness in the will of god.

Descartes goes on to  the faculties the creator has endowed him with and the implications of them. The main point is the ability to judge and gain understanding of things in our own mind and about objects around us in the world. Since God is complete and perfect he wouldn’t give us ability that was flawed. This would be deceitful and leave man unable to ever attain anything closer to God. So our judgment couldn’t ever be wrong or else God couldn’t be perfect because he would have given a deceptive quality to his creation.

This leaves us in the position of never being able to be wrong. So some sort adjustment must be made to the logic so far. To remedy this Descartes looks to man’s situation compared to God. While God represents perfection and completeness his opposite would nothingness. Nothingness represents a type of non being. This leaves us in some type of middle position. We sit in between God and nothingness. More important to Descartes previous chain of  argument though, is we are closer to nothingness because of incompleteness. This is where our room for error comes from. It isn’t that our that our ability to judge is some how flawed its just that we have a lack of knowledge and are not of God’s infinite nature. Descartes says that God’s reason for making us finite deals with two possible scenarios. The universes big picture and our free will. When God made the universe he made it perfect because a perfect being can do no less with out ceasing to be perfect. From man’s limited view we can not see the big picture to see how our predicament relates to every thing else to make it so perfect. So even if we are lacking in some respects this is only due to some element in the universe that requires it to be so to make the ultimate standing of the universe perfect.

As for the argument for free will ,  this deals with both our lack of being infinite and our mistakes we make. For Descartes its a simple separation between will and intellect. Itelligence being the presences of knowledge and understanding of it. While will would be how we act or judge the knowledge we have (example true or false,yes or no). If we were infinite as god our will would be less of a player in our minds and the intellect would play the lead role. God saw fit to make our will the stronger of the two to insure our free will. This act isn’t a act of evil, but instead for Descartes we should be thankful for a will that extends as much as it does. With the existence of the will and the level of our being it encompasses, we can now maker mistakes without God being involved.

Now we are in the position where God has given use the ability to judge things true or false on our own accord with the will he gave us. This can lead to error and as i shown before  Descartes shows that this ability to make a error isn’t a negative aspect but a good thing because it was done to preserve our freedom of will. Descartes finds that it is important to try and maintain a attitude of openness to clear and distinct ideas while with holding judgment on anything else when the truth of the matter isn’t clear. So Descartes will maintain a neutral position in a decision until he can confirm the answer in order to keep his will from leading to mistakes. This is a distinction between the choices we must even though they aren’t “clear and distinct” and the  steps we must take to prevent mistakes. So this leads to Descartes finding the divine guarantee of knowledge and its relationship to clear and distinct ideas.

Descartes starts off by acknowledging all the things out side of himself again. Somethings about them are “clear and distinct”  for example quantity or mathematical descriptions of objects. So much so Descartes notes that it is almost like he new it before and is just remember them. Things like triangles while even if they just exists in the mind are more then just nothingnessbecuase they have these elements of clearness  and are therefore of God. While some clear and distinct ideas are obvious(like the elements of a triangle)  some take study and thinking to find (deeper sciences). This finally leads to the argument that gives use another proof of God. The existence of clear and distinct ideas show some intelligent design this would be God. Since we have the existence of God we can claim there are clear and distinct ideas that God has given us. This also lets us rely on memories. With God and clear and distinct ideas we can be sure of things being true after we proved them to be, even when we’re not looking at the proof(memories). When we discover something to be true (through logic and science) it becomes clear and distinct and even when we fall back into doubt we can rely on it being so clear and distinctly true from our memory because of God’s absoluteness. This is the divine guarantee of knowledge.

All things complete rely on the awareness of God. God allows use to be sure of things when we aren’t looking at the proof  and can only  relying on how clearly true it was made from previous experience. Without God clear and distinct ideas are no different then any other idea. This leaves use with only probabilities and things that could possibly be true. God allows for there to be certainty. This thinking finds that pure deductive science is favorable instead of a science that is inductive in nature. This is because God can give a concrete foundation to all things known.

This argument for divine knowledge is the core of Descartes Meditations it lays the foundation for everything else. Without it Descartes never makes it back to all the things he believe before he left everything to doubt. If you don’t take this in to account the only thing you are left with is the confirmation of yourself or that which is doubting ideas in the first place.  Without it the only thing you can confirm about anything is that you exist and everything else is a purely probable argument and can never be fully confirmed to be true.

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1 Comment

  1. is that you, CB, all upside-downy??? RE: new pic on Blip.fm?

    is cool!!!


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