Definitions of Gods of Descartes and Locke

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1 Assignment of Introduction to Philosophy Definitions of Gods of Descartes and Locke June 7, 2015 Kenzo Fujisue 1. Introduction Through lectures of Introduction to Philosophy, I studied that Christianity plays an important rule and especially God is very fundamental concept in the Western Philosophy. Therefore, I would write my essay on the following two questions related to Gods of Descartes and Locke in the textbook. 1) Is it easier to think that a perfect God would allow me to go wrong sometimes, than he who would allow me to be totally in error? (Guttenplan, pp.16) Descartes ought to stop trusting any his existing beliefs except for Cogito 1, if he is serious about avoiding errors. To trust in his belief and overcome a skeptical malicious demon, he invents an idea of a Perfect God 2. 2) Do you think that it (Locke s argument) would have helped to solve the earlier problem of re-identification in respect of rooms? (Guttenplan, pp. 146) Locke compares being of things with itself existing at another time and place and forms ideas of identity and diversity. Locke concludes that that had one beginning is the same thing and which had a different beginning in time and place from that, is not same, but diverse. 3 And Locke has the idea of three different kinds of substances, God, Finite Intelligence and Bodies 4, to which the notion of identity can apply. Locke pointed out that identity cannot be in doubt in respect of God aside from the observation. Through these two questions, I would argue the definitions/ideas of Gods of Descartes and Locke. 2. Definitions of Gods of Descartes and Locke. Firstly, I would summarize the definition of Gods of Descartes and Locke. 1) Perfect/Infinite Being 1 Oxford English Dictionary, Cogito: The principle establishing the existence of a being from the fact of its thinking or awareness: ( 2 Guttenplan, pp Guttenplan, pp Guttenplan, pp

2 In Descartes s work of the Meditations, published in 1641, "the existence of God is demonstrated and the distinction between the human soul and the body 5." I have the idea of a perfect being. This idea must have a cause. A cause must be at least as perfect as its effect. So something at least as perfect as my idea caused it. Therefore such a thing exists. But that thing must be perfect, that is, God 6. Descartes pointed out God as a perfect being. Also, Descartes characterizes God as infinite being in the same way 7. In addition, Descartes pointed out God as a priori being. in spite of imperfection of Cogito, Cogito has concepts of perfect and infinite thing. This is derived from an a priori idea. This a priori idea must be given by God as the cause exist 8. Descartes made Cogito as the unique conceived existence 9. I can understand that Descartes argued "from the indubitability of the cogito, the cogito can have idea of perfect and infinite, therefore a perfect/infinite being (God) exists. 10 2) Necessarily Existent Being John Locke pointed out that the human beings are born without any knowledge as "tabula rasa", all knowledge is obtained by sensory and introspective in experience. 11 Therefore any ideas of God must be obtained from experience (a posteriori). Locke pointed out that we had God, Finite Intelligences and Bodies and God is without beginning, eternal, unalterable and everywhere and God must be an origin of all causality/logics 12. His argument can be summarized as follows, i. Nothing comes from nothing. 5 Blackburn, pp Ibid. Descartes argues that a content that represents infinity requires an infinite being as its cause. He concludes, therefore, that an infinite being, or God, must exist. 7 Hatfield, Gary, René Descartest Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 8 Ibid. 9 Blackburn, pp Hatfield, Gary, René Descartest Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 11 Blackburn, pp William Uzgalis pointed out According to Locke, God created man and we are, in effect, God's property. in John Locke Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 2

3 ii. Our perception (experience) is a certainty. iii. Therefore, our perception must have one beginning causality. iv. Thus, the presence of one beginning causality (God) is certain. I can understand that Locke argued "All of the knowledge and cognitive is obtained from perception/experience but we cannot know everything from our experience. Therefore we need God. 13 " In addition, Berkeley denied the two perception qualities of Locke 14. Berkeley pointed out that all ideas are recognized by the spirit and all of our ideas are made by "Cause" which are external of our consciousness 15 like Descartes. Berkeley defined this cause as God, in my understanding. God of Berkeley makes us understood the external events heard, seen and tasted within our minds Perfect God (of Descartes) allows me to wrong or in error? Perfect God never allow me to wrong or in errors. Descartes defined God as "that never deceive, deception is due to the incompleteness of malice and weakness, and it is inconsistent with the integrity of God. 17 " Descartes suggested that the human intellect is generally reliable because it was created by God and he explained that God has arranged the rules of mind body interaction in such a manner as to produce sensations that generally are conducive to the good of the body. 18 In Descartes method of skepticism, perception and inner sense including mathematical truth can be deceived by (malicious) God as long as God is not perfect. Descartes wrote Certainly, the idea of God, or a supremely perfect being, is one that I find within me just as surely as the idea of any shape or number. (AT 7:65; CSM 2:45). 19 Then, according to Descartes, I (Cogito) cannot believe in the external world but prove that the sum of the three corners of a triangle is 180 degrees with existence of God. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Guttenplan, pp Blackburn, pp.120. Furthermore, St Thomas Aquinas argued that God is needed in order to explain the world or cosmos as we apprehend it (the cosmological argument). 17 Guttenplan, pp Hatfield, Gary, René Descartest Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 19 Nolan, Lawrence, Descartes' Ontological Argument Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 3

4 I understand the definition of God of Descartes very simply as follows, i. I can believe just in existence of who am thinking (Cogito) and the most basic mathematical truth. 20 ii. I cannot believe in any things including the external world. iii. Just Perfect/Infinite being (God) can integrate Cogito and other any things. In this context, it is difficult for me to understand real existence (existentia) of God. Descartes defined God as not only essence (essentia) but also real existence (existentia) because God is "the perfect presence person (ens summe perfectum)" rather than "thing that reality exists." 21 I can understand essence of God as an idea but cannot understand real existence of God easily. Why cannot I comprehend the proof of Descartes God in simple? It is because Descartes prove Cogito at first and prove God next. In the Descartes' proof of God existence, Cogito is the beginning belief. If I can prove the Cogito on the basis of the existence of God, I can regard the Descartes God as the supremely perfect being. But Descartes s God is justified just by Cogito of imperfect thing 22. This God is far different from the supremely perfect being. In this way, I understand that the Perfect God of Descartes is a transcendent existence and just an idea. Such God seems to be necessary to prove the external world of Cogito but never provide any knowledge (justified true beliefs) to us. 4. Locke s argument would have helped to solve the earlier problem of reidentification in respect of rooms? Locke has the ideas of three substances: God, Finite Intelligence and Bodies 23 to solve the problem of identification. Locke pointed out that there is nothing that prevent a finite intelligence and a material body occupying the same time and same place. This concept seems to be able to help to solve the problem. On the other hand, in terms of God, Locke pointed out the identity of God, aside from the observation, cannot be in doubt. According to this definition of God, I don t think that Locke s God can help to the problem of re- 20 Nolan, Lawrence, Descartes' Ontological Argument Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 21 Inoue, Yoshihiho, "Cogito, ergo sum" and the Problem of God in the Philosophy of Descartes Journal of Nagasaki University, 1969, pp.1-14, 22 Descartes, Rune, First Meditation: What can be called into Doubt. I am so imperfect as to be deceived all the time. 23 Guttenplan, pp

5 identification. It s because in this definition, God has no time, space or atoms and must be just an idea. In order to solve the past of identification argument, Locke defined God as the beginning of causes. In other words, we are not originally aware of God and we can recognize God by the causality of experience. Proof of Existence of God by Locke is depend on causality. I understand that "all things have causes, these causes also have causes. If we go back through the chain of these causes, we should reach the first cause that cannot be traced back. This first cause is God." God intends to stand on the causality and be the beginning of causes. 24 However, I have two question on the definition of Locke s God. 1) We still have a question of who made the first cause of God. Then we should ask who made who made the God, who made who made who made God, This must be an infinite causation. 2) We define God through our experiences. If God defines (justifies) all beings including us, God and we are correlate defined (justified) each other. This becomes a circle causation / a causal loop. In addition, Gödel's proved that in a closed system all theorems are no longer able to prove completely as Gödel's incompleteness theorems 25. This Gödel's incompleteness theorems show that there is no first cause of mathematics and logic. In the world of mathematics and logic, there is no Locke s God. In terms of identification of the same oak tree, Locke points out that we can have the same oak tree, for instance, through a period of time, although the constituent "atoms", or cells or molecules, change. 26 And Locke makes transdictive inferences about atoms where Berkeley is unwilling to allow that 24 Feser, Edward, Locke (One world Thinkers) Kindle, Locke pointed out With a per se causal series, then, if we know it exists at all we know that it must terminate in a first cause. But any material substance is part of a per se series of causes as well as a per accidens series. 25 Raatikainen, Panu, Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( Gödel's two incompleteness theorems are among the most important results in modern logic, and have deep implications for various issues. The first incompleteness theorem states that in any consistent formal system F within which a certain amount of arithmetic can be carried out, there are statements of the language of F which can neither be proved nor disproved in F. According to the second incompleteness theorem, such a formal system cannot prove that the system itself is consistent (assuming it is indeed consistent). 26 Blackburn, pp62. Consider now a person (yourself) and a physical duplicate of that person (a twin). If Locke is right, then it is in principle possible that the twin is a Zombie or a Mutant. Although his or her physical self is just like yours, it would be an arbitrary exercise of God's bounty to make their mental life similar as well. in this material. 5

6 such inferences are legitimate. This implies that Locke has a semantics that allows him to talk about the unexperienced causes of experience (such as atoms) where Berkeley cannot 27. According to these arguments, I don t think that Locke s God can help to the problem of re-identification. 5. Conclusion God can be said that there is not and/or that there is. Existence and definition of God can be depend on the recognition of individuals 28. I fully agree with Pascal who pointed out we should wager that God exists because it is the best bet as Pascal s wager 29. However, I cannot agree existence of God completely. Why could not Descartes prove the existence of God first? I think that the perfect God must be the beginning of all beliefs. But in the proof of Descartes the cogito is the beginning of all beliefs. I can understand Descartes concept of God and Cogito, as not only I think, therefore I am but also I think, therefore God is. Also in the Locke s argument, I think that Locke s God is depend on the causality and should have either infinite justification or circle justification. Finally I understood that I cannot know why I exist, why I live, or why I think, even without God as Pascal pointed out in Pensées (#194) 30. In general, I could define God as an idea which knows whatever human beings cannot know. 27 Uzgalis, William, John Locke, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( 28 Blackburn, pp Hájek, Alan, Pascal's Wager Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( Pascal is apparently unimpressed by such attempted justifications of theism: Endeavour... to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God... Indeed, he concedes that we do not know if He is.... Pascal's project, then, is radically different: he seeks to provide prudential reasons for believing in God. To put it crudely, we should wager that God exists because it is the best bet. 30 "I know not who put me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I myself am. I am in terrible ignorance of everything I find myself tied to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put in this place rather than in another, nor why the short time which is given me to live is assigned to me at this point rather than at another of the whole eternity which was before me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but infinites on all sides, which surround me as an atom and as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I know least is this very death which I cannot escape. 6

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