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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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Rene Descartes is regarded as the father of modern philosophy. Some of the most objected ideas of his meditations are of certainty and God. In the fifth meditation, he considers a second opinion for God's existence (Descartes 87). He also posits that the certainty of the existence of God should possess' at least the same level of certainty just like mathematics truths.  It can be understood that Descartes concludes the existence of God to be more certain that the existence of mathematics, based on his ontological argument. His argument is a poorly comprehended aspect of philosophy based on the efforts to prove the existence of God from simple premises. The existence of God is derived from the distinct idea of perfect Supreme Being. Also, such an argument evoked misunderstandings due to Descartes' tendency to formulate it in diverse ways.  Descartes puts all ideas, beliefs, matters and thoughts in doubt. He showed that his reasoning for any knowledge could be false. Human senses the main mode of knowledge, according to Descartes, is prone to error and should be doubted. For example, what one sees may be a hallucination. Also, he believes that if a belief can be disapproved, then its justification is insufficient. As a result, Descartes came up with two arguments, the demon, and the dream. Descartes ideas on certainty and the existence of God are objected by other philosophers. Philosophers such as Pierre Gassendi, Baruch Spinoza, and Blaise Pascal question Descartes proofs on the existence of God and the reality of innate ideas. This paper argues that Descartes' metaphysical evidence for the reality of God is so distant from human way of thinking and that through distinct and clear thinking; it is possible to acquire conceptual certainty.

Descartes makes a factual claim when he asserts that human senses can be deceiving in that what one sees may just be a dream or a hallucination. However, his universal skepticism of the sense is not necessary. Descartes provides various circumstances in which his senses have deceived him. To justify the claim that senses may deceive, one should be able to know when the error has occurred. One would need to differentiate between the deceit and the correct thing. For instance, for one to know that the heat radiations seen on roads during a sunny day are just optical illusions rather than what the eye sees. However, in understanding this, an individual should be able to recognize the deception and avoid it.  Descartes emphasis on skeptical doubts and the need to have ‘some reason for doubt (Karkkainen 45).' is also critiqued by Pierre Gassendi.  Gassendi reveals Descartes failure to make a brief and simple statement to the effect that he was considering his preceding knowledge as doubtful so that he could afterward state what he established to be the reality. Descartes consideration of everything as false, according to Gassendi, is more like implementing a new injustice than surrendering a previous one. It is this approach that Descartes uses to convince himself by Imagining that God is deceiving and that a certain demon uses tricks on human reasoning. Pierre Gassendi further asserts that Descartes would have cited the weakness of human nature and the darkness of human mind instead. Gassendi goes against the hyperbolic and universal characters which form the basis of Descartes methodic doubt. Pierre's critique of Descartes method of doubt is acceptable. This is because, when reasoning, one cannot start with complete doubt. An individual must start will the biases which are the foundation of the study of philosophy (Saul 12). However, in the course of thinking and study, if one finds a positive reason to believe that something is true, one should not continue to doubt what he does not doubt in his heart.

Rene Descartes believed in the existence of God. Before proving that the world exists, he sets out to prove that God exists. However, Descartes ignored the Thomistic approach in his strategy that is he did not first recognize that contingent things exist, and then later argue that God exists. Descartes was ignorant of this process and he began whole from the self. He uses three arguments as evidence that God exists. First, he claims that God exists because any idea one holds must be true and that all ideas in the human mind are equal. Most importantly, argues that the finite mind cannot think of infinite ideas and when such happens, God puts such ideas in mind. His second argument is based on how humans come into existence. Descartes comes up with three ways; his parents, himself and the first principle. He dismisses the two and holds on to the first principle that he must have been created by an infinite power which is God. Thirdly Descartes formulates the ontological argument that whenever he imagines of the existence of God, he imagines of a ‘supremely perfect being (O\'Connell 76).'  Descartes arguments about the existence of God are nothing but a circular argument. He argues that he can only give evidence of the existence of God through distinct and clear premise. But, he also argues that such premises can only be evident after he has proven the existence of God. Therefore, it can be affirmed that there are no discrete and clear premises to prove the existence of God or if such premises are available, their certainty does not depend on the existence of God. Descartes proof of the existence of God is also refuted by Blaise Pascal who refers to such proofs as remote from human reasoning. According to Pascal, such arguments make little impact.  He believes that even if Pascal's arguments were valid, a few would think well enough to be convinced by them and even if the proofs persuaded someone, that person cannot be saved. Blaise Pascal's concern was to lead individuals to Christ and not monotheism. Therefore, he held onto the opinion that Descartes traditional proofs of the existence of God were counterproductive.  Also, Pascal opposed Descartes pure nationalism by asserting that there were more available ways to search for the truth than through reason. He believed that human beings could also find truth from the heart that is, what the heart knows opposed to what is known through deductive reasoning. Individuals perceive and believe that God exists in their hearts as evidenced in Pascal's assertion “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing (Broughton 423).”

Both Descartes and Spinoza seem to have complementing ideas. Spinoza's philosophy can be viewed as a progressive reflection on the role of knowledge. Along with Descartes, Spinoza was concerned with advancing intellectual power, with its intrinsic ability to reason to overcome the confusion and obscurity of everyday perceptions. Spinoza attempts to teach on how to utilize rational and natural powers so as to overcome enslavement to the partial knowledge provided by senses. Spinoza's search for true knowledge was the only avenue to liberating oneself from the fallibility and limits of the average human existence.  He searches for a way through which individuals can correct themselves and know the reality with a certainty that would guarantee them an affirmative and active existence, defined by joy and love. Spinoza agrees with Descartes on the issue of the finite mind. He sees the human as a thinking thing which has ideas and is itself an idea. In his Ethics, Spinoza also argues about the nature and existence of God. However, he challenges the traditional Judeo-Christian belief (Henry 16).  Spinoza attributes human features to something that is non-human, typically animals, plants or God. However, his assertion that God does not possess an intellect goes against Descartes view that infinite ideas are put into human minds by God. Such ideas can only come from a mind that is more intellectual than that of a human. For Spinoza, God is an impersonal power that is he cannot respond to human's demands, requests and needs. Such as God does not punish or reward. Both Spinoza and Descartes characterize various ideas as distinct and clear. He concurs with Descartes that human beings can envisage a thinking body without utilizing any notion of extension.

Descartes is a recognized as the father of modern philosophy. However, his metaphysical evidence for the reality of God is distant from the human way of thinking. On his argument about certainty and the existence of God, Descartes argues that all reasoning is false including what the senses perceive. He calls them hallucinations. He recognizes the existence of a finite mind that harbors finite ideas. Any idea that is infinite comes from an infinite source, which is God.  In his method doubt, Descartes proposes that humans should doubt everything in search of knowledge. He also provides three traditional proofs of the existence of God. His ideas of uncertainty are refuted by philosophers such as Gassendi who asserts that adopting a new prejudice than relinquishing an old one and that through this strategy Descartes as able to convince himself by Imagining that God deceives. Pascal also refutes his proof of the existence of God by asserting that such proofs have little impact as they are remote from human reasoning.  Spinoza and Descartes agree in various arguments. They both agree on the need to search for knowledge, and that various ideas as distinct and clear. Contrary to Descartes, it is definite that through distinct and clear thinking, it is possible to acquire conceptual certainty.

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