Chapter

The Idea of a Supreme Being

David Cunning

in Argument and Persuasion in Descartes’ Meditations

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195399608
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866502 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399608.003.0004
The Idea of a Supreme Being

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This chapter offers a reading of the Third Meditation argument from objective reality according to which Descartes’ central premise—the causal principle that the cause of the objective reality of an idea must have the same amount of reality either formally or eminently—is just an application of the premise that something cannot come from nothing. The meditator is able to recognize the truth of the premise and then construct an argument that entails that there exists an infinite being (God) whose nature is inconsistent with deception. This is a much better argument than any of the First Meditation skeptical arguments, and so the when the meditator stands the arguments up against each other he accepts the former. The chapter considers the confusion and material falsity of sensory ideas and the different ways that different first-person meditators would stand toward it. The chapter also considers various confusions that the meditator expresses because he had them before entering the Meditations and has not yet emended them.

Keywords: idea; God; objective reality; eminent; formal reality; material falsity; causal principle; sensory ideas; deception; infinite

Chapter.  9213 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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