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Rene Descartes

Answered Questions

Why, according to Descartes, would denying God be a contradiction (essence vs existence)?

In the Fifth Meditation and elsewhere Descartes says that God's existence follows from the fact that existence is contained in the “true and immutable essence, nature, or form” of a supremely perfect being, just as it follows from the essence of a triangle that its angles equal two right angles.1

What are 3 characteristics of God according to Descartes?

Descartes argues that, even if we cannot know the full nature of God, we do know that God is absolutely perfect—this property is contained in our very idea of him. In his books, Descartes also claims that god is not corporeal, but mental, because corporeality involves imperfection. Descartes claims that we must believe everything that God has revealed to us (such as, perhaps according to Descartes, the Trinity) even if we do not understand it. Finally, he discusses the difference between the property of infiniteness, which is a positive conception, and indefiniteness, which is a negative conception. Among our ideas, only our idea of God includes the notion of the infinite, according to Descartes. Only with God do we positively know that there is no limit to him. All of our other ideas, which include the property of limitlessness (e.g. our idea of the number of grains of sand in the world), are merely representing the indefinite. Descartes, in fact, argues that our idea of God, which is an innate idea, was placed in us by God as the artist's signature on his handiwork. Descartes claims that unity, or the "inseparability of all the attributes of God," is one of the key components of our idea of God. Descartes concludes that God is the author of his being.2


Page last modified on September 29, 2012, at 10:57 PM