Why Does Descartes Say That Nothing Can Ever Be Known Perfectly Without A Knowledge Of God? Is It True?

1157 words - 5 pages

In this essay I will outline why Descartes has come to the conclusion that we cannot be perfectly certain of any knowledge without firstly realising God must exist and I will reject this notion on the grounds that God’s existing will not affect the certainty of things which we cannot doubt.
Firstly I shall address why Descartes supposes we must have knowledge of God before we can know anything with perfect certainty. Descartes believes that he, unlike an atheist, can have absolute certainty of the things he perceives clearly and distinctly in his mind since the existence of God, the most perfect being, strengthens his conviction that he need not doubt this type of knowledge. Although ...view middle of the document...

He seems to suggest he knows with absolute certainty that God is inclined in such a way that he wouldn’t deceive us, but by his own measure of what is true knowledge, how can he be so certain of this fact that he cannot believe it wouldn’t be true? It seems entirely plausible that the author of our origin wouldn’t be the most perfect thing, after all, perfection is such an abstract human concept which we constantly strive for. There doesn’t seem to be anything in our universe which is perfect, if anything is described as such it will be done so within established limitations, whereas when one thinks of perfection as a separate concept we don’t think it involves limitations. So if nothing in our world is perfect, why is it necessary that the creator of this world is perfect? If anything the contrary, that God isn’t perfect, seems to be more fitting. This would mean that upon gaining knowledge of God we still cannot be completely certain of His nature and thus cannot arrive at the point where we cannot doubt his willingness to deceive us.
Although Descartes suggests otherwise, the most perfect thing doesn’t necessarily exist, existence isn’t a form of perfection as one can always imagine a more perfect thing. Hence even if God’s existence is necessary, He isn’t necessarily the most perfect thing, therefore his nature isn’t necessarily such that He is a perfect, benevolent creator that wouldn’t deceive us. Even if the proofs for God and the concept of God’s nature are explained to someone to the extent that it is clearly and distinctly in their mind’s eye, they are not simply convinced that God’s nature must be so. Since there is no intuitive reasoning that reveals God’s true nature, they must concede that they could be mistaken over exactly what His nature might entail and so, like the atheist, there remains a lingering doubt as to whether they are misguided. However convinced they may be of God’s essence being one thing or another, it doesn’t seem undoubtable that God’s nature should be fixed as the perfect, benevolent creator. Descartes can be no more certain that God wouldn’t be a deceiver than he can be of the ways in which as he states: ‘I can convince myself that I was so created by nature that I am sometimes mistaken...

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