Descartes's Arguments for the Existence of God

Descartes in Meditation III offers two separate arguments for the existence of God. The first starts with the fact that everyone of us has an idea of God, and the second starts with the fact that it is certain that I exist.
The steps of the first argument are like this:
I have an idea of an infinitely perfect substance / such an idea must have a cause / from nothing nothing comes / so the cause of an idea must have at least as much formal reality as there is subjective reality in the idea / I am a substance, but I am not perfect / so I could not be the cause of this idea / so there must be a formal reality that is an infinitely perfect substance / so God exists.
The steps of the second argument are like this: I exist / There must be a cause for my existence / The cause must be one of the following: a) myself, b) my always having existed, c) my parents, d) something else less perfect than God, or e) God / not a, or I would have given myself perfections I now lack - because creating the properties of substance is not as hard as creating the substance itself / not b, because my existing now does not follow from my having existed in the past / not c, for this leads to an infinite regress / not d, for this couldn’t account for the unity of the idea of God that I have / so e, and God exists.


These two arguments are difficult to be refuted; we can put the first aside but it keeps coming back (see the ongoing discussion about the relevancy of the ontological argument). The a priori knowledge is difficult to deal with because no experience is involved and everything is at the level of pure intellect. Descartes starts either from innate ideas, or from the fact of his existence as a thinking thing. To prove the existence of God is the second major step for Descartes to put the world back, but in a very different way.
This intellectual exercise by Descartes is appreciated in our times because, I would suggest, it is an example of methodic doubt. We do not take anything on board without examining it. Traveling on the ‘doubt way’ touches a sensible line in many of us. Getting everything out and then putting some of them back is a remarkable endeavor. To do philosophy by examining the self and the mind has to be interpreted accordingly.
What do we find there? Descartes, and, later, others talk about the idea of an infinitely perfect substance. At this point I tend to feel an aristotelian shadow, but having the perfection depicted in terms of infinity I am inclined to give Descartes the point of originality. It seems that perfection is not seen in the static terms of unchanging, unmoving entity that moves. He works with the capacity of the mind and of examining everything in it. I see this as difficult to refute because of our relational nature. I know that this can stop at human level, but sometimes it goes beyond that, and one of our most formidable tool in assessing this is our thinking capacity. This a priori aspect of our judgment should point us beyond the observable fact and events. This talk about the existence of God is not done in terms the world around us, but in the, sometimes, difficult inscrutable sharpness of the human intellect.

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