Descartes outlines within the meditations two proofs for the existence of God. The first of these is known as the trademark argument. The first premise of the trademark argument states that people have an idea of a perfect being i.e. an idea of God inside them. The second premise is known as the Principle of Causal Adequacy. The second premise states that any cause has at least as much perfection as its effects, for example, the sign of a good painter is a good painting and you can tell from a bad painting that the painter was not a good painter. The third premise makes the statement that humans are imperfect. Descartes then concludes that as an absolutely powerful being, God must have created us as he would have at least as much perfection his effects. The perfect effect that provides evidence of God's perfection is the idea of a perfect being.
This argument however is an invalid argument as there is a failure within the premises; this is that even if we accept all the premises to be true they do not provide us with the conclusion. Whilst people may have an idea of a perfect thing, the idea in itself may not be perfect. To further illustrate, I may paint a picture of a perfect thing, but this does not make my picture perfect. Hence, Descartes may have an idea of a perfect thing, but the idea itself may be an imperfect idea of a perfect being, this would then mean that there was no perfect effect to provide evidence of a perfect cause. This means that Descartes is not entitled to the conclusion, as there is no way for him to reach it using the premises that he has provided.
The second proof of God is known as the ontological argument. The first premise of this argument is a definition of God as a being that possesses perfection. The second premise states that if God did not exist then he would lack the perfection of existence. The conclusion is, therefore, that God's essence, or at least part of it is existence.
There is however within this argument a problem within the second premise. The second premise implies that existence is a perfection but this is incorrect, a perfection is a property of something and this would hence imply that existence was a property. This is an incorrect as existence is not actually a property, but a pre-condition for having properties. Immanuel Kant, who put forward the deontological theory of ethics once said that "the expression 'existence' is not a predicate". From this we can realise that premise two is invalid and Descartes is not entitled to using it and without this premise that argument breaks down.
Fiction » Essay Rated: K, English, Spiritual, Words: 491, Published: 10/31/2004