Meditation 1: staring to doubt everything, and he starts by doubting the foundations to nullify as many things as quickly as possible. First mentions that the senses could be deceiving you. Then mentions that dreams are reasons to doubt everything. Says that the things we see during sleep are like painted images which could only be produced in “the likeness of true things”. What reason does he have to say that true originality is not possible? It’s the argument that something can’t come from nothing. He asks if perhaps God has deceived him every time he adds 2 to 3. He asserts an evil genius God, all external things to be incorrect (colors, etc), and himself as not having eyes, hands, etc. It’s hard for him to not slip back into his normal life assumptions. He essentially proposes the Matrix and the fear of discovering the truth. Says perhaps the only thing we can be certain of is that we can’t be certain of anything.
Meditation 2: My question: What if this evil genius God just provided Descartes with a tainted faculty for logic, but one that is consistent? Apparently he addresses my question but I can’t find it. Establishes “I think therefore I am”, more specifically “if I can doubt, then I must exist”. Then he moves on to examining what this “I” exist means, what is “I”. Examines the nature of bodies/souls. Concludes that “I” is a thinking thing, pretty much. Essentially considers how he could just be dreaming, and the things he observes aren’t true. He establishes that he perceives, which is just another form of thinking he says. He claims you can’t come to know bodies via senses because they are in flux, such as a piece of wax before/after melting. He comes to know the wax through the mind, not by imagining. He can understand that the wax has infinite forms, even though he can’t imagine all of them. He talks about how “knowing via intellect”, which is essentially understanding.
Meditation 3: In paragraph 1, he simply summarizes all that he has claimed to have proven in the previous mediations. In paragraph 3, he discusses how ideas of things are in him and thus must exist even if the things themselves do not. He talks about how he used to be certain that things existed outside of him, but at this point he is not. In paragraph 4, it seems as though Descartes grapples with the idea that, if God exists and he is a deceiver, that Descartes will never be able to be certain about anything he has already shown. In paragraph 5, he classifies his thoughts into classes: “ideas”, “volitions or affects”, “judgements”. In paragraph 6, he demonstrates that ideas cannot be false nor can wills or affects. He claims that so long as judgements don’t branch between things in him and outside of him, then there’s no way for error. In paragraph 8, he says the reason things are outside of him is because they don’t bend to his will. He dismantles some of these statements in paragraphs 9 and 10. In paragraph 14, he claims that an effect must get its reality from its cause, and thus something cannot come into being out of nothing. And also perfection is diluted, that is, you can’t have something more perfect/real come from something less perfect/real. So then he says that because of this, his idea of heat and a stone must have come from something no less perfect/real. In 16 he concludes that if the reality of his ideas is so great that the idea could not have originated from him, then there must be something external to him. In 18, he says that most things could be fashioned from himself. As in 20. 22, he considers whether the idea of God could have originated from him. In 24, Namely, because of his ground rules, the idea of something infinite could not have come from something finite. Because he understands that there’s something more real about the infinite. In 25, he claims that the idea of God is pretty much the proof of his existence? In 26, he wonders if perhaps all the attributes of God are in him but he simply just doesn’t know. That is “the idea of a being more perfect than me necessarily proceeds from a being that really is more perfect”. In 32, because he doesn’t have the ability to will that he exists a moment from now, there must be an external being doing this for him. In 33, he talks about the chain of people with a conception of God resulting in the first, which was God himself. Essentially Descartes uses the notion of God to prove its existence…In 34, he considers if the perfections of God could have existed separately in objects that he has come to know, but he claims that the idea of God is inseparable perfections. In 36, he wonders how he got the idea of God. The Idea of god was innate in him. In 37, more religious stuff and then finally that because God is perfect, he can’t be a deceiver.
Proofs for the Existence of God (by Alan Nelson): Essentially an alternative proof for God without Descartes weird conclusions about formal and objective reality: “ it is given that the meditator has the idea of an actually infinite thing, and it is given that he could not have put this idea together from his store of ideas of finite, merely potentially infinite things, so the meditator could not be the cause of this idea. The existence of this idea must, therefore, be caused by an actually infinite thing outside his thought.”
Meditation 4: Goes back over all the previous conclusions. Explains that God is not capable of trickery because God is infinitely benevolent. He makes mistakes because the “faculty of judging truth” that he got from God is not infinite. He essentially goes over why he can’t doubt the existence of God because his reason’s may escape Descartes, so just because things happen that he doesn’t understand isn’t reason for doubt. His errors have two causes: the ability to know, and the ability to choose (free will). He claims that his free will is essentially infinite/boundless, and God’s is actually essentially the same degree as his. He essentially says that being indifferent is a flaw, and that if he were infinitely wise he would never be indifferent. “Since the will extends further than the intellect”, he applies his will to things he doesn’t understand and that is the cause for his errors. He wonders if his ‘“thinking nature” is different from his sense of a “corporeal nature”, he concludes that he doesn’t know at this point. He says that you can be infallible if you only touch things with your will after fully exploring and understanding with your intellect, even if you get lucky and are right, you erred. He explores that the way God made him is perfectly fine and there’s no reason to claim otherwise. He says that God could have made him in a way that he would not error, by suppressing his free will by saying he will not act without fully understanding, or by un-limiting his intellect. The reason that God made him to error could be because the Universe may become more perfect because of it; it’s about the global optimization. He concludes that he can not make a mistake if he only uses his will on things he clearly and distinctly understands.
Meditation 5: He begins by considering the ideas of objects outside of himself and which are distinct (2). He examines the continuous nature of extension (that is, non-discrete; objects appear to fully occupy space with no gaps), and claims that this and the properties and objects appear in him, rather than discovered (3,4). He discusses essentially classes of objects, such as triangles, and how it is clear to him that they must exist independent of his thought (5). He knows that these things were not simply implanted by the senses, because he can prove (mathematically) properties of specific objects he may have never encountered in reality (6). He builds on his proof of God, by saying that, because he’s shown that anything he distinctly perceives about an object is a quality that actually belongs to that object, he can show that God exists because he apparently perceives that God is inherently extant as distinctly as basic arithmetic, and so God must exist (7). He questions this conclusion (9). He clarifies the conclusion to show that, while the objects that are inseparable to him in general don’t have to exist outside of his mind, because it is the idea of God and God existing that are inseparable, God must exist (10). He seems to talk about the difference between inherit knowledge and falsely made conclusions (11). Really just whines about how obvious God’s existence is (12). He entertains the idea that perhaps he has a defective nature that leads him to incorrectly perceive things as true. He concludes again that because God is not a deceiver, everything he clearly and distinctly perceives is necessarily true, and he sees that he can’t be made with a defective nature, that he previously believed things for insufficient reasons, and that even if he is dreaming he is using only his intellect to derive these conclusions and so they must still be true (15). He closes with the conclusion that knowing God was entirely necessary for any science to function (16).
Meditation 6: He begins by clarifying the difference between imagination and intellection: imagining is being able to picture in one’s mind a shape or object, while intellection is understanding properties without necessarily being able to picture something (2). Understanding/intellection is the mind drawing on its own ideas, and imagination is where the mind looks at the body or the senses (3). He must pay close attention to the senses, which bring him objects to perceive (4). He begins to examine objects through the senses, starting with his body, then external objects and he explains that it appears as though these objects are external to him because they are admitted to his mind without his consent, and he sort of is compelled to believe that the ideas of objects that were in his thought came from these senses, because they appeared to be more “explicit” (6). He reasons that because everything he senses while awake he sometimes also senses while asleep, and because he says he shouldn’t trust what he senses in his sleep, he must therefore not trust what he senses when he seems to be awake. He also concludes that, ultimately (despite previous paragraph), he cannot now trust what come to him from his senses (7). He uses clear and distinct perceptions to show mind-body duality, that is, that “he” the thinking thing and his body can exist separately (9). He claims that his understanding is passive, only acting on things that are passed to it, and thus there must be something (he claims external to him) that is actively providing things to be understood and because God is not a deceiver, it is not God sending him these ideas and thus something outside of him and God must exist (10). Descartes sort of covers his ass by reiterating that any time he refers to “nature”, he means all things that God created (11). He talks about the importance of ties between the mind and body (13). Man makes mistakes from the senses because he is limited, not omniscient (16). He attempts to reconcile the fact that our nature compels us sometimes to do things that are harmful to us, even though God gave us our nature (18). He sort of talks about continuity of nerves in the body (21). More physiology (22). Concludes that, while it was a good exercise, he can reasonably dismiss the doubt he originally set forth as what he used to know before the meditations is, for the most part, the truth (24).
Third Set of Objections and replies:
Against Meditation III: Hobbes does well in his first objection, claiming that we really don’t have any image/idea of God that we can be certain of, thus concluding that there’s no idea of God in us which really shuts down Descartes’ argument early. But this argument sort of does rely on equating “image” to “idea”, and Descartes pushes back on that rightly. Of course, Hobbes at this point was really only asking for clarification.
Berkeley, first dialogue:
Hylas sort of talks about his uncertainty regarding what most people think when people who spend their whole lives learning end up talking about how “we must proclaim we know nothing”. Hylas claims that Philonous’ opinion that there is no such thing as “matter” is absurd, but he shows that in fact it is just as unfounded if not more so to believe that such matter exists. Philonous goes on to guide Hylas to see that we essentially know the world through our senses,