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1 meditation 3, 45-46 the trademark argument perfection

2 meditation 3, 43-47 the trademark argument - summary 1) I have an idea of perfection 2) This idea must have a cause. 3) The cause of this idea can’t be myself since I’m imperfect. 4) Because of the causal adequacy principle, the quality of the effect must exist in the cause. 5) Therefore a perfect being must exist.

3 meditation 3 – 51,52 conclusion  At 51 Descartes gives his craftsman analogy from which the trademark argument takes its name.  He relates his argument to the Christian notion that Man is made in God’s image and so has the image of God within him.  At 52 He arrives at the conclusion necessary to rescue a priori thinking. A perfect being wouldn’t let him be deceived since “all fraud and deception depend on some defect.”  In this way, although he doesn’t explicitly say so, the deceiving God/evil genius sceptical argument is overcome.

4 meditation 3 – What’s wrong with the trademark argument?  His argument relies on the principle of causal adequacy: Although held in high regard in Descartes time it is now discredited. Often properties appear in an effect that don’t exist in their cause. Eg. Cottinham points out that a sponge cake has many properties not present in the ingredients (e.g. sponginess)- Emergent phenomena. Even if we accepted this causal principle, it was intended to apply to physical object not ideas.  The principle of causal adequacy suggests that causes have more reality than their effects. BUT Kant pointed out that existence is not a predicate. Something that exists can have qualities but existence itself is not a quality that something possesses. This being the case neither is existence something that can be held in degree. Either something exists or it doesn’t.

5 meditation 3 – What’s wrong with the trademark argument?  If God is an innate idea, it is not clear why everyone doesn’t have the idea.  Even if the idea of god is to be found universally there could be other reasons for this. Freud in “Future of an Illusion” argued that the idea of God arose out of our need for a father figure and David Hume argued that the idea of God could be arrived at by considering qualities within oneself (wisdom, strength, goodness, etc.) and magnifying them.

6 meditation 3 – problems with the clear and distinct rule At the beginning of Meditation 3 Descartes establishes the term “clear and distinct” rule as a test of truth. Descartes uses this phrase in a very technical way. Descartes is a mathematician. Mathematics deals in very clear and distinct ideas. There is no room for vagueness. A triangle must have three sides. This is a clear and distinct idea. Descartes believes that in the cogito he has a clear and distinct idea. And this now becomes his test for truth. He is looking around to see if there are any other ideas that might pass the clear and distinct test. Truths which are clearly and distinctly perceived by Descartes would be: Mathematical truths The existence of God The cogito The experience of the senses aided by mathematical analysis That the mind is better known than the body BUT This is all very well if we also happen to see it that way but what may seem clear and distinct to Descartes may not be apparent to others, in which case the persuasion of his argument is challenged.

7 meditation 3 – the Cartesian circle At the end of meditation 1 Descartes declares that he can’t trust reason because of the possibility of a deceiving God/evil genius. But then he argues that maybe he can trust “clear and distinct” perceptions He argues that he can now see the existence of God clearly and distinctly and God, being perfect, would not allow me to be deceived. Therefore he can trust what he perceives clearly and distinctly This is circular. God allows me to see things clearly and distinctly I know God exists because I can see this clearly and distinctly

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