Title

An Argument Against Descartes's Vivid and Clear Ideas

Presenter Information

Alysia Rogers

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 271

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Descartes, God, Vivid

Abstract

In his Third Meditation, René Descartes claims that he can know that God exists because he has a vivid and clear idea of God's existence, and that that idea is truer than any other idea he has in his mind. I will argue three different points that show that Descartes has not established a firm basis by which he can claim proof of God's existence. First, I will show how uncertain the reliability of Descartes’s understanding is in general, and also in comparison to the understanding of other competent philosophers. Second, I will argue that dreams and hallucinations could serve to bring doubt to Descartes’s vivid and clear ideas, but that preconceived notions are far more likely to have occurred with Descartes, leaving him unable to fully relinquish the beliefs of his upbringing and culture. Lastly, I will argue that Descartes seems to be operating on a scale of degrees of certainty, that this is problematic, and that it actually only makes his argument about clear and vivid ideas uncertain. Based on these three main arguments, I will show that since his beliefs about vivid and clear ideas are unreliable, doubtful, and uncertain, then these beliefs are not a solid base on which to prove any other beliefs, such as the existence of God.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Gary Bartlett

Department/Program

Philosophy & Religious Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Philosophy & Religious Studies

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May 21st, 8:30 AM May 21st, 8:50 AM

An Argument Against Descartes's Vivid and Clear Ideas

SURC 271

In his Third Meditation, René Descartes claims that he can know that God exists because he has a vivid and clear idea of God's existence, and that that idea is truer than any other idea he has in his mind. I will argue three different points that show that Descartes has not established a firm basis by which he can claim proof of God's existence. First, I will show how uncertain the reliability of Descartes’s understanding is in general, and also in comparison to the understanding of other competent philosophers. Second, I will argue that dreams and hallucinations could serve to bring doubt to Descartes’s vivid and clear ideas, but that preconceived notions are far more likely to have occurred with Descartes, leaving him unable to fully relinquish the beliefs of his upbringing and culture. Lastly, I will argue that Descartes seems to be operating on a scale of degrees of certainty, that this is problematic, and that it actually only makes his argument about clear and vivid ideas uncertain. Based on these three main arguments, I will show that since his beliefs about vivid and clear ideas are unreliable, doubtful, and uncertain, then these beliefs are not a solid base on which to prove any other beliefs, such as the existence of God.