Rene Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy

Descartes' Proof for the Existence of God and its Importance

Descartes’ Proof for the Existence of God and its Importance

In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes describes his philosophical quest to find absolute, certain knowledge. His method for finding this knowledge is to start from the most basic truths, systematically working through them and trying to establish some sort of doubt about them. If he is able to create doubt about something, anything that follows from that thing will also contain doubt and therefore be eliminated. To create as much doubt as possible, he comes up with the “evil genius hypothesis,” in which there is a higher being that exists who deceives all sensory perceptions that Descartes has. In going through this process, the only thing that Descartes is able to determine as true is that he is a thinking thing that exists; he is unable to prove the existence of anything else. At this point, he also establishes a general rule for truth, which states, “everything I [Descartes] very clearly and distinctly perceive is true” (line 35). In order to prove anything else beyond that he is a thinking thing, he must disprove the idea of the evil genius and he does this with his proof for the existence of God. For Descartes, proving the existence of God is absolutely...

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