Rene Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy
The Conception of God in Descartes and Leibniz
René Descartes and Gottfried Leibniz both espouse belief in a God that is infinitely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely benevolent. Nonetheless, Descartes and Leibniz differently structure the hierarchy of those three defining traits as they determine God’s actions. Descartes’ God is a Voluntarist, meaning that God has absolute freedom of indifference. Power is supreme for Descartes. Leibniz objects to the arbitrariness of goodness and truth that arises from Descartes’ conception. In response, Leibniz chooses to depict a God whose power is constrained by a dominant intellect and benevolence. However, in Leibniz’s attempt to find absolute truth and goodness outside of God’s power, he limits God’s power to such an extent that the nature of God is fundamentally altered from the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevolent conception that Leibniz claims to believe in. Ultimately, Descartes’ view of God, though problematic, is more convincing because it does not involve the paradox of a God with limited freedom.
For Descartes, God’s power is primary. God can will anything to exist. Descartes writes that “every single moment of my entire existence depends on him.” God has complete freedom of discretion in choosing what to...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 921 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7294 literature essays, 2060 sample college application essays, 302 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in