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1

meditation 1

what can be doubted?

o ‘Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses’

o Challenges reliability of the senses through: argument from previous errors

♣ (i) Argument from dreams

♣ (ii) Argument from deceptive deity
♣ (iii) Argument from malin génie (evil demon)

2

meditation ii

mind over matter
o the cogito is known ‘clearly and distinctly’: clear and distinct intellectual perception, independent of the senses, is now the mark of truth. Essence or nature of mind more independent from body than on Aristotle’s hylomorphic account since mind can work without senses. It is a thing in its own right – it has its own existence and therefore is independent; it subsists as a substance

3

meditation 3

why gods exist

o aims to restore beliefs about things other than the ego, starting with claim supremely perfect being (God) creates mind
♣ What is certainty? Relative to a subject (e.g. a geometer) and a time. Key rule for recognising truth: ‘I now seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true’
♣ Cause of the objective reality of the content of an idea must contain at least as much formal reality as there is objective reality in what the idea contains
♣ Our (lesser) idea of perfection is related to its (greater) perfect origin (God), just as a stamp or trademark is left in an article of workmanship by its maker

4

meditation 4

on truth and falsity
o Descartes then explains how it can go wrong: nature and cause of error and how to avoid it; how error is to be reconciled to perfection of God (answer: human creatures also ‘participate in nothingness’)

5

meditation 5

essence of matter
o so-called ontological proof, but not (unlike Anselm) from meaning of the word ‘God’ but from theory of innate ideas and the doctrine of clear and distinct perception
♣ God's existence is inferred directly from the fact that necessary existence is contained in the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being

6

meditation 6

existence of matter
o Attempts to connect mind to body with a proof that material things exist and to provide a proof that the mind and the body are really distinct from each other

7

‘First philosophy’ as pure philosophy?

- A mere exercise of reason independent of theological commitment?
- Yes insofar as specific doctrinal commitments are concerned (Incarnation and Trinity)
- But Descartes insists that there is another source of clarity and transparency besides the natural light of reason
- Second Set of Replies to the Meditations: Descartes articulates the idea of a ‘double source’ of clarity or transparency (duplex claritas sive perspicuitas), one coming from the natural light, the other from divine grace
- Lumen supernaturale leads to irresistible assent of the intellect no less than the lumen naturale
- Cartesian meditator part of a long tradition from Augustine (Confessions) through Anselm (Proslogion), to Bonaventure (Journey of the Mind towards God) that mingled philosophical reasoning with praise and worship

8

argument against first philosophy as pure philosophy in second meditation

- If I am deceived, I am
¥ In order to be deceived, deceiver needs material to work with. Something must be deceived
- I think, therefore I am
- Next 4 meditations insist that D can get out of scepticism
¥ Success of this was pivotal in Western philosophy

9

ultra summary - first meditation

- Senses deceive – p.11
- Need to trust own body – p.11
- Dreams are illusions – 12
- Paintings are fictitious but the colours used are real – 12-13
- Examination of composite things is doubtful – 13
- A priori is preferable – 13
- God can do everything – 13
- Doubting God and suggesting his power to deceive – 14
- Varying possibility of God’s power – 14
- Threat of doubt is persistent – 15
- Taunted by demon – 15
- Asserts that he will stand strong in face of deception – 15

10

ultra summary - second meditation

- Inner conflict re. doubts vs. desire to combat doubts – 16
- Reduces everything to knowable, assumes that every he perceives is false – 17
- Dismisses the empirical – 17
- God is cause of his thoughts – 17
- Introduces idea of dualism – 17
- Mind is rational – 17
- Existence is proven by ability to be deceived, cannot deceive the non-existent – 18
- I am, I exist = necessarily true – 18
- Doubts re soul – 19
- Existence is certain, he is a thinking being – 20
- ‘I know that I exist, and I am asking who is this ‘I’ whom I know’ – 20
- imagination could be deceiving – 21
- I am a thinking thing – 21
- I am consistent with doubting ‘I’ – 21-22
- Physical seems realer than imagination – 22
- Example of wax, senses cannot alter the rational – 23
- Understanding = faculty of judgment in mind – 25
- Need mind to perceive – 25
- Can use senses to observe but need mind to judge – 26

11

ultra summary - third meditation

- Meditative quality to writing – 27
- Perception = reality – 28
- Example of geometry – 28
- Is god a deceiver? – 29
- We have innate ideas – 30
- These ideas are often against will – 31
- Look at external things against own likeness – 31
- Do the ideas originate from external things? – 32
- E.g. sun appears small but is actually big. Senses = deceptive – 32
- God = all knowing, omnipotent (33)
- Idea of causes – origin of effect is cause – 33
- Something cannot be made from nothing – 33
- Intentional vs. formal reality – 34
- God = powerful and created creatures – 38
- More reality in infinity – 39
- Supreme perfection – 39
- God as supreme perfection – 40
- God = ultimate cause – 43
- Unity of God’s attributes – 44
- God exists as D exists – 44
- God = innate in D – 44
- God cannot be a deceiver – 45

12

ultra summary - fourth meditation

- God cannot deceive – 47
- Faculty of judgment comes from God – 47
- Cannot know mind of God – 49
- Perfection = holistic – 49
- Faculty of understanding is limited, comes from God – 50
- Question of freedom – 51
- Explanation for why we make mistakes – 52
- Created beings are finite – 54
- Privations are not associated with God – 54
- God cannot be deceiver if he is supremely perfect – 56

13

ultra summary - fifth meditation

- Innumerable ideas – 57
- Triangle, can know essence – 58
- We have a conception of God as supremely perfect – 59
- Existence of God = certain – 59
- Existence is part of God’s essence – 59, 60
- Existence is a perfection – 61
- Only God cannot be separated from his essence – 62
- In noticing that God exists, things we perceive are necessarily true – 63
- Certainty of knowledge depends on recognition of God’s existence – 64

14

ultra summary - sixth meditation

- Difference between imagination and pure understanding – 65
- Capacity to understand is not an intrinsic part of essence – 66
- There can be an argument that concludes necessarily that some body exists – 67
- We have feelings etc. that come to me without my consent e.g. fear – 68
- We react emotionally to physical pain and vice versa – 69
- Senses remain deceiving – 70
- Everything we understand comes from God – 71
- There must be a faculty in some substance that is distinct from me – 73
- Physical things exist – 73
- Cannot doubt existence of body – 74
- My body can be affected – 75
- Nature teaches us certain things but does not draw conclusions from sensory perceptions – 76
- Human body is a form of machine – 78
- Differences between mind and body – 79
- Mind is separate to the body – 79
- Despite God, the mind cannot help but be deceptive sometimes - 82
- Dismisses previous doubts, sense of psychological progression – 83
- God is not a deceiver, should not doubt thoughts when you can see where they have come from - 83