Rene Descartes

The Ontological Argument: Redux

Rene Descartes' Arguments for God's Existence

  1. An Epistemological Preface: Rationalism

    1. Fallibility of the senses

    2. The Soul as "thinking thing"

    3. Innate Ideas (that which is "clear and distinct")

    4. God insures empirical knowledge

  2. The Ontological Argument revisited:

    1. 'God' exists as an innate idea in the mind

    2. 'God' is the Supremely Perfect Being (SPB) - the 3-O God plus

      1. actual
      2. eternal

      • P1 I have the idea 'god' (the supremely perfect being) in my mind.
      • P2 The idea 'god' is an innate idea.
      • P2.1 The idea 'god' could not come from the senses.
      • P2.2 I could not have created the idea 'god' on my own.
      • P2C Something outside myself placed the idea in my mind.
      • P3 The idea 'god' contains within it the idea of existence.
      • C Therefore, God (the SPB) exists.


      Note: simply because the idea 'god' implies existence, it does not follow that God actually exists, if I can imagine 'god' without 'existence'.

    3. God exists necessarily (i.e., I cannot conceive of God not existing.)

      • P1 'God' is the supremely perfect being.
      • P2 Existence is one quality of perfection (along with power, goodness, knowledge, etc.)
      • C 'God' cannot be conceived without existence.
      • P3 If the SPB exists, its existence must be no less than perfect (i.e., actual and necessary).
      • P4 God exists.
      • C Therefore, God exists actually and necessarily.

    4. God is the only conceivable thing whose essence contains necessary existence.


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