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A Critique On Descartes Ontological Argument

famousdebater
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10/19/2015 3:33:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Of all the recurring questions of Man, one of the most persistent is the question of our origins. Specifically the question of what, if anything, caused us to exist. It has been argued by generations of minds, all seeking the definitive explanation of our existence. One such mind was that of Rene Descartes, a brilliant philosopher of his time, throughout and beyond ours. His ideas on geometry and metaphysics, among others, remain influential upon the thinkers of today.

In Meditations, Descartes formulates the framework and guidelines of his First Philosophy or metaphysics, where methodic doubt is used to discern the nature of being and the world. Here he describes how we can derive a reliable method that can definitively determine what is certain and what is suspect, and further apply that method to prove the existence of absolute ideas such as God or mathematics. The method's ground-up approach is supposed to provide for the foundations of certain knowledge, and so it does.

Descartes believes that after I call into doubt everything that can easily be relegated as uncertain (such as sense dependent data), I am left with mental ideas of things that I once experienced through the senses. Given that a chair's physical existence may be suspect, my idea of a chair may also be suspect in regard of some aspects such as appearance, yet I cannot suspect the fact that I am thinking of scale, quantity, measurement, space, etc. in providing for my mental image of the chair. Hence for Descartes, there are things that are certain regardless of sense experience and it seems mentally impossibly to conceive of them as false.

Given this, Descartes develops his reasoning for the existence of God as an all-perfect being. He does this by beginning with an idea that is considered certain and attributing what makes us feel as if something is certain. In this case he considers something certain as something so clearly and vividly perceived that it cannot be untrue. Here he implies then that for something to be true, I just have to have a clear and vivid idea of it and that alone is enough antecedent for its truth-value. He clarifies this by describing the nature of the mind to have clear and distinct knowledge of certain thing to be true because of its basis in something true that is external from the senses. So, when I distinctly and vividly perceive of something I do so in such intensity because of my recall with the higher form of the idea. Descartes then says that one can know that some properties of these higher idea forms can be known to be true because if I know of ultimate idea of a triangle, when I perceive its three angles to be equal to two right angles, it must be true because I cannot so vividly perceive it as a triangle unless the ultimate nature of a triangle did not contain the predicate of its three angles being equal to two right angles. So then, a property of a clear and distinct object must be true by the basis of its being perceived as also being clear and distinct. Since the concept of a perfect being implies that it contains its own necessary existence, that is, for it to be perfect it must in itself contain all perfections and by extension all expressions of such. For Descartes, because it is clear and distinct that the idea of a perfect God must hold that God has necessary existence, and that if I have an idea of something and I clearly perceive it to have a property then that thing really has that property, then God must exist because God's existence naturally follows from God's conception.

The problem with this is that because of Descartes logical framework, all it takes for something to exist in the world is to somehow incorporate the idea of existence into the nature of the concept. Also, because all it takes for it to be true is that that I perceive that existence is part of the concept just enough to be vivid and clear. Such that I could conceive of a chair and it would not exist, but the chair were somehow ascribed with a nature of existence such that the chair has the property of existence, and that I clearly and so distinctly perceived it as such, then it would exist. So then, all it takes to create a chair into existence is to somehow be able to build it to the point that I clearly perceive it to be an "existing" chair. Clearly, we cannot just go around creating chairs out of thin air, so this must not be the case. So then, it should not be so that I can conclude that a thing is existing in the world just by clearly and distinctly perceiving that existence is part of the things nature. While there must be something that carries its own necessary existence within itself, it should not be so that I am able to ascribe self-necessity to something, as that defeats its purpose.

Another similar problem with the Cartesian ontological argument is that just because one knows a perfect Gods nature as having necessary existence, it does not follow that God is in a state of existence. This is because something that is existing, can not necessarily be in existence as a thing. Given that I were to think of the concept of God, and God's properties, it follows by Cartesian logic that the only thing I can know to be true is that the existence of the concept God, rather than that God is existing in the world. Therefore, when I think of something, I regard it as existing just by the conception of it, regardless of whether the thing I am thinking of exists as such. So existence does not really add to the idea of something because it already exists as one conceptualizes the idea. It can be seen then that Descartes is sneaking that God is existing in the world, when he can only actually observe that there is a subject such as God, and that God-concept is omnipotent, omniscient, self-necessary, etc. in the world. For it would be different if there were ways we could empirically observe that God existed in the world. If God existed in the world, then we would be able to observe that a part of God's essence is that God is existing since it would be obvious to our senses. Given that God was existing, then there would be more perceivable signs of God interacting with matter that are present, even to the point of having an experience of personally watching God affect matter as it is happening. However this is clearly not the case, for we come to our knowledge of God only through the mind, and our current understanding of the physical world. We know that God, being wholly perfect, must then contain all necessary existence within itself, otherwise it would be dependent on another for its own existence and hence not perfect. Clearly this is a logical deduction, which comes from premises that show our collective conception of what an all perfect being is. In other words, all we know is that there is a concept of omnipotence- but not perceive omnipotence in reality, there is such a thing as omniscience-but not perceive of omniscience in reality, etc, and that there is such a concept of God who contains all these things by virtue of conceiving God's God-ness- but no perceive of God in reality. As shown, this is the case in the world, where we can have no relevant or reliable sensory experiences that can show God's existing in the real world.

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"Life calls the tune, we dance."
John Galsworthy
famousdebater
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10/19/2015 4:13:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I am welcoming any rebuttals, counter-rebuttals and just your opinion.

If you agree, then say so. If you have any extensions to the argument then feel free to do so.
"Life calls the tune, we dance."
John Galsworthy
kp98
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10/20/2015 12:20:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Hm... that seems to be quite a good statement of a known problem with Descartes argument. Similar criticisms were raised as soon as the book was published, and Descartes rebuttals were no more convincing than the origin statement. It is quite hard to find anyone who seriously supports this particular element of Descartes philosophy, and I am certainly not inclined to support it!
Balacafa
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10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 12:20:40 PM, kp98 wrote:
Hm... that seems to be quite a good statement of a known problem with Descartes argument. Similar criticisms were raised as soon as the book was published, and Descartes rebuttals were no more convincing than the origin statement. It is quite hard to find anyone who seriously supports this particular element of Descartes philosophy, and I am certainly not inclined to support it!

Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.
Fkkize
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10/20/2015 3:18:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Daktoria
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10/20/2015 4:10:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I'm not really sure the OP grasps the ontological argument very well.

Basically, Descartes is arguing that cognition has a source. The faculty itself has to come from somewhere.

The chair analogy doesn't apply because it's a concrete object. Abstract ideas are not concrete objects. It sounds like the OP is confusing the ontological argument's with the teleological argument. Descartes isn't arguing in favor of intelligent design based upon the beauty of the world. On the other hand, many the OP is confusing the ontological argument with the cosmological argument. Descartes isn't arguing in favor of creationism based upon something having to come from nothing.

To consider it another way, understand that rational thought involves the "unfolding" or "folding" of your internal sense of time. There is no concreteness here because you're not actually handling external spacial objects. The only thing you're doing is coming up with a blueprint. You're not actually manifesting something into existence.

The concept of "God" as Descartes interprets it is that this unfolding capacity has to come from somewhere. It can't just spontaneously pop out of nowhere. It has to follow something similar to conservation of energy.
n7
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10/20/2015 4:20:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 3:18:13 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

I don't think this one is that popular. I've never seen this particular argument used except by one or two users. And I saw a modified version of it in a video once.
404 coherent debate topic not found. Please restart the debate with clear resolution.


Uphold Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Sargonist-n7ism.
Fkkize
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10/20/2015 4:29:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 4:20:30 PM, n7 wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:18:13 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

I don't think this one is that popular. I've never seen this particular argument used except by one or two users.
It was intented as a more general claim.

And I saw a modified version of it in a video once.
Yeah, I mean there are even videos of people arguing for idealism
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Daktoria
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10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.

Maybe they have a mental problem? Their anti-idealism is really just an excuse for being retarded.
Daktoria
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10/20/2015 5:34:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
That said, you often see this argument get made in academia between math and physics departments. Physics scholars argue that understanding the natural world comes from trial and error experiments.

Math scholars argue that understanding the natural world comes from theorizing in your mind how things work, and testing your theories after the fact. Some math scholars will even argue that there's no such thing as a "bad" theory. Instead, there are only incomplete theories don't don't account for all the theories that actually apply in the real world. After all, theorizing takes time, so a "bad" theory is really just a theory that hasn't been completely developed.
Fkkize
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10/20/2015 6:37:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM, Daktoria wrote:
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.
If you think this constitutes proof of idealism, then it's probably not me who is retarded.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.
Mathematics has literally nothing to do with idealism.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
n7
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10/20/2015 6:44:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 4:29:48 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 4:20:30 PM, n7 wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:18:13 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

I don't think this one is that popular. I've never seen this particular argument used except by one or two users.
It was intented as a more general claim.

And I saw a modified version of it in a video once.
Yeah, I mean there are even videos of people arguing for idealism

It wasn't a YT video (it's on youtube now, but it was made before youtube), it was a professionally made video made in the 90s called "Startling proofs". Had a ton of your typical apologetics, but I was really surprised to see Descartes OA in there.
404 coherent debate topic not found. Please restart the debate with clear resolution.


Uphold Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Sargonist-n7ism.
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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10/20/2015 6:58:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 6:44:35 PM, n7 wrote:
At 10/20/2015 4:29:48 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 4:20:30 PM, n7 wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:18:13 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 3:10:54 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

I don't think this one is that popular. I've never seen this particular argument used except by one or two users.
It was intented as a more general claim.

And I saw a modified version of it in a video once.
Yeah, I mean there are even videos of people arguing for idealism

It wasn't a YT video (it's on youtube now, but it was made before youtube), it was a professionally made video made in the 90s called "Startling proofs". Had a ton of your typical apologetics, but I was really surprised to see Descartes OA in there.

Well, since they rolled the "tornado-junkyard"-argument, I guess one could expect them to grasp for any straw.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Daktoria
Posts: 497
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10/20/2015 7:26:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 6:37:33 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM, Daktoria wrote:
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.
If you think this constitutes proof of idealism, then it's probably not me who is retarded.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.
Mathematics has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Math is built around a priori reason...

...unless you constantly count on your fingers. lol
Fkkize
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10/20/2015 7:31:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 7:26:58 PM, Daktoria wrote:
At 10/20/2015 6:37:33 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM, Daktoria wrote:
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.
If you think this constitutes proof of idealism, then it's probably not me who is retarded.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.
Mathematics has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Math is built around a priori reason...

...unless you constantly count on your fingers. lol
Which has literally nothing to do with idealism.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Daktoria
Posts: 497
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10/21/2015 12:40:37 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/20/2015 7:31:15 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 7:26:58 PM, Daktoria wrote:
At 10/20/2015 6:37:33 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM, Daktoria wrote:
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.
If you think this constitutes proof of idealism, then it's probably not me who is retarded.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.
Mathematics has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Math is built around a priori reason...

...unless you constantly count on your fingers. lol
Which has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Keep trolling, boss. lol

Way to deny the obvious and assert the inane. You're either completely uncivil, totally oblivious, or a combination of the two.
stealspell
Posts: 980
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10/21/2015 7:01:55 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/19/2015 3:33:49 PM, famousdebater wrote:
Of all the recurring questions of Man, one of the most persistent is the question of our origins. Specifically the question of what, if anything, caused us to exist. It has been argued by generations of minds, all seeking the definitive explanation of our existence. One such mind was that of Rene Descartes, a brilliant philosopher of his time, throughout and beyond ours. His ideas on geometry and metaphysics, among others, remain influential upon the thinkers of today.

In Meditations, Descartes formulates the framework and guidelines of his First Philosophy or metaphysics, where methodic doubt is used to discern the nature of being and the world. Here he describes how we can derive a reliable method that can definitively determine what is certain and what is suspect, and further apply that method to prove the existence of absolute ideas such as God or mathematics. The method's ground-up approach is supposed to provide for the foundations of certain knowledge, and so it does.

Descartes believes that after I call into doubt everything that can easily be relegated as uncertain (such as sense dependent data), I am left with mental ideas of things that I once experienced through the senses. Given that a chair's physical existence may be suspect, my idea of a chair may also be suspect in regard of some aspects such as appearance, yet I cannot suspect the fact that I am thinking of scale, quantity, measurement, space, etc. in providing for my mental image of the chair. Hence for Descartes, there are things that are certain regardless of sense experience and it seems mentally impossibly to conceive of them as false.

Given this, Descartes develops his reasoning for the existence of God as an all-perfect being. He does this by beginning with an idea that is considered certain and attributing what makes us feel as if something is certain. In this case he considers something certain as something so clearly and vividly perceived that it cannot be untrue. Here he implies then that for something to be true, I just have to have a clear and vivid idea of it and that alone is enough antecedent for its truth-value. He clarifies this by describing the nature of the mind to have clear and distinct knowledge of certain thing to be true because of its basis in something true that is external from the senses. So, when I distinctly and vividly perceive of something I do so in such intensity because of my recall with the higher form of the idea. Descartes then says that one can know that some properties of these higher idea forms can be known to be true because if I know of ultimate idea of a triangle, when I perceive its three angles to be equal to two right angles, it must be true because I cannot so vividly perceive it as a triangle unless the ultimate nature of a triangle did not contain the predicate of its three angles being equal to two right angles. So then, a property of a clear and distinct object must be true by the basis of its being perceived as also being clear and distinct. Since the concept of a perfect being implies that it contains its own necessary existence, that is, for it to be perfect it must in itself contain all perfections and by extension all expressions of such. For Descartes, because it is clear and distinct that the idea of a perfect God must hold that God has necessary existence, and that if I have an idea of something and I clearly perceive it to have a property then that thing really has that property, then God must exist because God's existence naturally follows from God's conception.


No. God must exist because his perfection necessitates his existence. So your critique doesn't work.

The problem with this is that because of Descartes logical framework, all it takes for something to exist in the world is to somehow incorporate the idea of existence into the nature of the concept. Also, because all it takes for it to be true is that that I perceive that existence is part of the concept just enough to be vivid and clear. Such that I could conceive of a chair and it would not exist, but the chair were somehow ascribed with a nature of existence such that the chair has the property of existence, and that I clearly and so distinctly perceived it as such, then it would exist. So then, all it takes to create a chair into existence is to somehow be able to build it to the point that I clearly perceive it to be an "existing" chair. Clearly, we cannot just go around creating chairs out of thin air, so this must not be the case. So then, it should not be so that I can conclude that a thing is existing in the world just by clearly and distinctly perceiving that existence is part of the things nature. While there must be something that carries its own necessary existence within itself, it should not be so that I am able to ascribe self-necessity to something, as that defeats its purpose.

Another similar problem with the Cartesian ontological argument is that just because one knows a perfect Gods nature as having necessary existence, it does not follow that God is in a state of existence. This is because something that is existing, can not necessarily be in existence as a thing. Given that I were to think of the concept of God, and God's properties, it follows by Cartesian logic that the only thing I can know to be true is that the existence of the concept God, rather than that God is existing in the world. Therefore, when I think of something, I regard it as existing just by the conception of it, regardless of whether the thing I am thinking of exists as such. So existence does not really add to the idea of something because it already exists as one conceptualizes the idea. It can be seen then that Descartes is sneaking that God is existing in the world, when he can only actually observe that there is a subject such as God, and that God-concept is omnipotent, omniscient, self-necessary, etc. in the world. For it would be different if there were ways we could empirically observe that God existed in the world. If God existed in the world, then we would be able to observe that a part of God's essence is that God is existing since it would be obvious to our senses. Given that God was existing, then there would be more perceivable signs of God interacting with matter that are present, even to the point of having an experience of personally watching God affect matter as it is happening. However this is clearly not the case, for we come to our knowledge of God only through the mind, and our current understanding of the physical world. We know that God, being wholly perfect, must then contain all necessary existence within itself, otherwise it would be dependent on another for its own existence and hence not perfect. Clearly this is a logical deduction, which comes from premises that show our collective conception of what an all perfect being is. In other words, all we know is that there is a concept of omnipotence- but not perceive omnipotence in reality, there is such a thing as omniscience-but not perceive of omniscience in reality, etc, and that there is such a concept of God who contains all these things by virtue of conceiving God's God-ness- but no perceive of God in reality. As shown, this is the case in the world, where we can have no relevant or reliable sensory experiences that can show God's existing in the real world.

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kp98
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10/21/2015 8:52:59 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I wonder if everyone has picked up on the essence of the 'DOA'. Descartes said that anything that can be 'vividly and clearly' conceived must exist. He went on to claim that it is only possible to 'vividly and clearly' conceive of god - everything else (chairs and so on) are always conceived of with less clarity and vividness so there is doubt as to their existence.

If that seems an odd argument, most other people think so to. It isn't even an argument as such, because Descartes stated the 'vivid and clear principle' with no real attempt to justify it. It was basically a 'bare assertion'. Nor did he offer any better justification when he was challenged by contemporary philosophers after the publication of his book. The OP mentions some of the criticisms raised agaist the DOA at the time.

I think Descartes had not done other brilliant work in mathematics etc. his 'ontological argument' would be totally - and rightly - ignored. But at least now we know why the DOA is no reason to believe in God - don't be conned by the celebrity name, because Descartes was definitely not on form that day!
stealspell
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10/21/2015 4:02:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/21/2015 8:52:59 AM, kp98 wrote:
I wonder if everyone has picked up on the essence of the 'DOA'. Descartes said that anything that can be 'vividly and clearly' conceived must exist. He went on to claim that it is only possible to 'vividly and clearly' conceive of god - everything else (chairs and so on) are always conceived of with less clarity and vividness so there is doubt as to their existence.


That's not what he says.
Fkkize
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10/21/2015 4:06:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/21/2015 12:40:37 AM, Daktoria wrote:
At 10/20/2015 7:31:15 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 7:26:58 PM, Daktoria wrote:
At 10/20/2015 6:37:33 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/20/2015 5:30:51 PM, Daktoria wrote:
It never made sense why people argue against idealism.

Proving idealism to yourself is so basic that it's not even funny. Just close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind.
If you think this constitutes proof of idealism, then it's probably not me who is retarded.

Sometimes, I wonder if people who reject idealism are just bad at math. It's like they never understood the principles of geometry, trigonometry, or locus nevermind linear algebra, vector calculus, or differential equations.
Mathematics has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Math is built around a priori reason...

...unless you constantly count on your fingers. lol
Which has literally nothing to do with idealism.

Keep trolling, boss. lol
Idealism, roughly, is the view that reality is fundamentally mental. It contrasts with materialism and substance dualism, among others.

Now, please, enlighten me how "close your eyes, and draw lines in your mind" demonstrates the non-existence of non-mental objects.

Way to deny the obvious and assert the inane. You're either completely uncivil, totally oblivious, or a combination of the two.
Coming from the guy who implied I am retarded in his very first response lol
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
kp98
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10/21/2015 5:20:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
That not what he says

Descartes said a lot things, so let's see what he wrote.

Here is a quote from the relevant section of Mediatations:

"But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God?"

I misrembered 'distinctly' as 'vividly', or I read a different translation- no matter, I'm not up to using the original Latin!

I'll extract from that quote: "the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it"

I understand "produce from my thought the idea" as 'conceive'.

He goes on "...Entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it".

Note the 'really does' - to me Descartes is talking about 'the real' here - the existing. We have here the claim that his clear and distinct conception of something entails its existence.

Descartes wrote: "whatever method of proof I use, I am always brought back to the fact that it is only what I clearly and distinctly perceive that completely convinces me."

Clear and distinct perception (I said conception) are sufficient proof for Descartes.

Descartes wrote: I would certainly acknowledge him (God) sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?

Manifest can surely only mean 'clear and distinct' in this context.

I'll stand by what I posted.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate DOA is that it about why Descartes personally believes in God - ie why he is convinced subjectively - rather than as an actual objective, ontological proof.
famousdebater
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10/21/2015 5:35:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/21/2015 5:20:48 PM, kp98 wrote:
That not what he says

Descartes said a lot things, so let's see what he wrote.

Here is a quote from the relevant section of Mediatations:

"But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God?"

I misrembered 'distinctly' as 'vividly', or I read a different translation- no matter, I'm not up to using the original Latin!

I'll extract from that quote: "the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it"

I understand "produce from my thought the idea" as 'conceive'.

He goes on "...Entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it".

Note the 'really does' - to me Descartes is talking about 'the real' here - the existing. We have here the claim that his clear and distinct conception of something entails its existence.

Descartes wrote: "whatever method of proof I use, I am always brought back to the fact that it is only what I clearly and distinctly perceive that completely convinces me."

Clear and distinct perception (I said conception) are sufficient proof for Descartes.

Descartes wrote: I would certainly acknowledge him (God) sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?

Manifest can surely only mean 'clear and distinct' in this context.

I'll stand by what I posted.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate DOA is that it about why Descartes personally believes in God - ie why he is convinced subjectively - rather than as an actual objective, ontological proof.

This is a good discussion going on here and I'll try and make some comments and responses once I get the time to do so.
"Life calls the tune, we dance."
John Galsworthy
stealspell
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10/21/2015 5:53:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/21/2015 5:20:48 PM, kp98 wrote:
That not what he says

Descartes said a lot things, so let's see what he wrote.

Here is a quote from the relevant section of Mediatations:

"But if the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it, is not this a possible basis for another argument to prove the existence of God?"

I misrembered 'distinctly' as 'vividly', or I read a different translation- no matter, I'm not up to using the original Latin!

I'll extract from that quote: "the mere fact that I can produce from my thought the idea of something entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it"

I understand "produce from my thought the idea" as 'conceive'.

He goes on "...Entails that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive to belong to that thing really does belong to it".

Note the 'really does' - to me Descartes is talking about 'the real' here - the existing. We have here the claim that his clear and distinct conception of something entails its existence.

Descartes wrote: "whatever method of proof I use, I am always brought back to the fact that it is only what I clearly and distinctly perceive that completely convinces me."

Clear and distinct perception (I said conception) are sufficient proof for Descartes.

Descartes wrote: I would certainly acknowledge him (God) sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?

Manifest can surely only mean 'clear and distinct' in this context.

I'll stand by what I posted.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate DOA is that it about why Descartes personally believes in God - ie why he is convinced subjectively - rather than as an actual objective, ontological proof.

And you wrote: "everything else (chairs and so on) are always conceived of with less clarity and vividness so there is doubt as to their existence." Which contradicts the above underlined.
Balacafa
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10/21/2015 6:17:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

It was a pretty similar ontological argument.
famousdebater
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10/22/2015 6:05:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/21/2015 6:17:17 PM, Balacafa wrote:
Agreed. I did a debate with lannan regarding God and he brought up that argument and I used a similar contradiction.

It's fascinating how some people almost fetishize ontological arguments. Especially the old ones.

It was a pretty similar ontological argument.

I'd be interested to know which one it was.
"Life calls the tune, we dance."
John Galsworthy
kp98
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10/22/2015 8:49:40 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
And you wrote: "everything else (chairs and so on) are always conceived of with less clarity and vividness so there is doubt as to their existence." Which contradicts the above underlined.

I confess I can't see the contradiction, but it is possible I am being blind to some unintended meaning in what I wrote. I hope I didn't mislead anyone.

Repetition warning:
There is nothing new in the rest of this post, but I hope it is contradiction free.


All we really need is this:

"I would certainly acknowledge him (God) sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?"

We see here it is the supremely clear and vivid (more manifest) quality of Descartes' conception of God that elevates the certainty of God's existence over the uncertain existence of chairs, which (presumably) he does not conceive of so 'manifestly'.

DOA It is an odd, almost solipsist 'argument'. It depends entirely on the notion that if something is conceived clearly enough, it must exist - or possibly conversely that it is only possible to clearly conceive of something if it exists. Either way its a pretty untenable position, and even Descartes found it impossible to defend it properly against the criticism such as the ones in the OP.

That's all I am saying about the DOA !
Balacafa
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10/22/2015 5:54:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
This is now in the pink bar at the top of the philosophy forum. Thanks for the great discussion everyone, keep it up!
Balacafa
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10/22/2015 5:55:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 5:54:28 PM, Balacafa wrote:
This is now in the pink bar at the top of the philosophy forum. Thanks for the great discussion everyone, keep it up!

This is really good and is helping me to understand ontological arguments too!
stealspell
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10/22/2015 7:39:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 8:49:40 AM, kp98 wrote:
All we really need is this:

"I would certainly acknowledge him (God) sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?"

We see here it is the supremely clear and vivid (more manifest) quality of Descartes' conception of God that elevates the certainty of God's existence over the uncertain existence of chairs, which (presumably) he does not conceive of so 'manifestly'.

You're forgetting the context of what he said and why he said that.

"whatever method of proof I use, I am always brought back to the fact that it is only what I clearly and distinctly perceive that completely convinces me. Some of the things I clearly and distinctly perceive are obvious to everyone, while others are discovered only by those who look more closely and investigate more carefully; but once they have been discovered, the latter are judged to be just as certain as the former. In the case of a right-angled triangle, for example, the fact that the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the square on the other two sides is not so readily apparent as the fact that the hypotenuse subtends the largest angle; but once one has seen it, one believes it just as strongly. But as regards God, if I were not overwhelmed by philosophical prejudices, and if the images of things perceived by the senses did not besiege my thought on every side, I would certainly acknowledge him sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more manifest than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?"

He's saying that philosophical prejudice and the senses hinder his perception of God's existence as a clear and distinct truth. He's not talking about the truth being "more" clear and distinct. When he says "more manifest" he means, as the preceding sentences show, that some things being clear and distinct after careful consideration. But the idea of God is more manifest, that is, it requires less of an effort for us to realize it is clear and distinct if we didn't have philosophical prejudices and misleading sense perceptions. Whereas other things, such as the idea that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees as being a clear and distinct truth, requires a mathematical understanding/foundation. That's different than saying it's "more" clear and distinct. And it's important to understand the difference if you intend to criticize him.
stealspell
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10/22/2015 7:49:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/22/2015 8:49:40 AM, kp98 wrote:
It depends entirely on the notion that if something is conceived clearly enough, it must exist - or possibly conversely that it is only possible to clearly conceive of something if it exists.

Descartes makes distinctions in the Meditations between three different kinds of ideas: innate, adventitious, and factitious. He also uses the notion of formal reality(objective reality). He would say that the idea of a unicorn, for example, is factitious and doesn't have a corresponding adventitious idea and therefore doesn't have formal reality.