Exegesis II

Descartes, in the third Meditation, presents an argument for the existence of God based on the meditator’s observation that he or she has the idea of an infinite substance.1 Your second paper will be an exegetical analysis of this argument. You are not being asked to provide a commentary on the quality of the argument. Your main goal is to articulate and explain the argument as it is given by Descartes. Though this particular argument might seem quick, addressing it adequately will requireexplaining a number of complex principles. For example, you will need to talk about the principle of sufficient reason as well as the relation between the an efficient/total cause and its effect. You will also need to explain the difference between objective and formal reality as this distinction is the lynchpin of the overall argument. You might also find it helpful to discuss how Descartes attempts to demonstrate that the meditator could not be the author of his/her idea of an infinite substance though s/he may indeed be the author of other ideas like duration, number, and extended substance. Your paper should be between 650-750 words, well-written, proof-read, double-spaced, and formatted according to the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style.

I’m interested in seeing your explanation of the principle of sufficient reason, the notion of efficient causality, the distinction between formal and objective reality, as well as how these premises lead Descartes from the fact that he has an idea of an infinite substance to the conclusion that God necessarily exists.

For these three premises, I think you will find pages 73 and 74 in the Hackett text quite helpful. Also, note that on page 76 Descartes writes “…from what has been said, I must conclude that God necessarily exists.” This signals that Descartes thinks that by page 76 he has proved the existence of God. If you can explain how the three premises have allowed Descartes to make that conclusion, you will have done well.

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