Tag Archives: deceving

Rene Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy: First Meditation

26 Aug

Rene Descartes published a ground breaking set of meditations on his philosophy including 6 meditations that presented great thoughts. My aim is to talk about each meditation and its philosophy in detail. Previously I posted a writing of mine of a synopsis and discussion about all meditations together (which actually was a paper I did almost 2 years ago) and that can be found amongst the Archives and the Rene Descartes category to your right. Here I only want to talk about the first Meditation and what it says about  concerning things that can be doubted.

Descartes begins the meditation by looking back on his previous opinions and states them to have doubt and therefore to be false. A big statement in the beginning of the meditation is when he says that anything that can have some ground for doubt, can be immediately rejected. He looks for complete truth, and stating this is a good start, but goes a little bit to far in my opinion. If I recognize something to have doubt, it would be my opinionated decision to get to the root of those doubts about it, and possibly modify my hypotheses to resolve the doubts. Often the resolution of doubts can lead to ultimate rejection of what is discussed, and in this case Descartes would be right. This rejection of all doubted things is too broad and should be specialized to certain doubts, while excluding other doubts for further discussion and exploration towards a resolution of it. Doubting things is good because it leads to further understanding, and should not be a shortcut to abandonment of the whole hypotheses.

After having said this Descartes discusses the instances of dreams and perceived reality and how we cannot be sure which is which. He clearly states that he previously strictly relied on the senses. But now stating that senses having deceived him before, it cannot be a certain action to rely on something that has deceived us even once. Descartes questions here if he is awake in a certain space and time, because he has some question of his senses because they have deceived him. He goes on to say that a God exists that is all powerful and all knowing, as he states the deception of his senses. The meditation ends by him stating the powerfulness and goodness of God, but with an evil spirit within God. And that God uses the senses and creates illusions to appear to them, simply to deceive him.  He further states that knowing this he can circumvent this deception of God by not accepting any falsities into his beliefs and therefore defeating God’s purpose in deceiving him.

I can understand Descartes’ recognition of the senses deceiving him because our sensory organs are not reliable and can often deceive us simply by mistake. There is not a real purpose behind the mistakes our sensory organs make other than it is something that can often confuse us. Our senses using sight can produce mirages, hallucinations, epistemologically false sense data and others, but it is only a mistake our distorted sensory organs make. My end point is that God does not deceive us, but He distorts our understanding in a lesser form of deception which I get to. This paragraph is not of Descartes’ philosophy by the way, it is of my own. The distortion God put unto our senses is not because he wants to deceive us, and Descartes’ view of God is totally false. However, what Descartes perceived was the distortion we all experience causing us simply to have questions and seek out understanding.

The key to the difference between Descartes’ reality and the real reality is in God’s identity as a deity.  Descartes sees him as powerful, and mostly good, but having evil spirit in him. Saying that a good God has evil spirit in him is a blatant contradiction. In the real world God is sympathetic, loving, caring, generous, and amazing. God also does not deceive anyone, that is Satan’s business.  Our purpose on earth is to worship God, and to find Him amongst the evils. Without the senses we have being distorted, there would be no purpose in life because we would know everything, and God’s purpose for putting us here on this earth would be nullified. So the real God’s distortion of the human’s senses is justified because if this distortion were not existent, our purpose for being here would not exist. But this distortion of our sense is not deception as Descartes understands it. Deception involves tricking a person to lead them down an evil, dead, horrific path that if a person goes down this path, the deceiving would have won, and the deceived would be led to ultimate demise. Satan works in this business, and often leads many down this very path, and they end up in the fires of Hell. God does not do this deception. God’s distortion of our senses and understanding is to lead us towards the narrow path towards  eternal salvation. Descartes fails to recognize that God is entirely good and has all good intentions for his choice to distort our sensory understanding. God does this distortion to our senses because he wants us to eventually seek Him for guidance, where in the event of one doing that, they are rewarded with eternal salvation. For example if one aims to see what is in heaven and hell and at first seeks no help in God, he will be led nowhere in his investigation. God uses this being led nowhere to lead people to His teaching, and to realize (in this specific example) that heaven and hell are to be totally understood when we get to heaven by eternal salvation. Descartes endorses the common misconception of God in that people see God as the fear mongering, angry, acting, and wrath enacting God which is false in all areas. God really is loving, saddened (not angry) at sin, generous, forgiving and great. Descartes misunderstanding of God falsifies his whole argument about doubts and the illusions the sensory data he says it to be.

Based on his false misunderstandings, he states that he can defeat the deceiving God by not admitting any falsities into his philosophy. If he does this he wins against the deceptions. Now, odd as it is, a true statement came out of a false one in that upon his false misunderstandings, he states that no falsities should be admitted into ones own philosophy. This is entirely true in that we should never admit falsities into our philosophy if we can see ever that a certain proposition is false.

It saddens me to see that someone sees God in such a way, but the meditation provoked my thought in the inferences that were somewhat true in their nature. I plan on discussing the next 5 meditations in Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy.

Thanks for the support.

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