Accordingly, Bergson writes:. Furthermore, in order that no space in the universe, however narrow, be empty, matter has to be taken as indefinitely divisible Then, the narrower is the space to be filled, the greater must be the speed of the particles of matter filling it:. Then, human freedom is an exception to the universal power of explanation afforded by mechanistic physics. Descartes considers the freedom of the will to be indivisible, i. Thus, human will resembles divine will Appropriately, Descartes writes in the Fourth Meditation :. There Descartes writes that. Indeed, in the immediately preceding section 40 Descartes raised exactly the question of the relationship between human mind and material motion.
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Descartes wrote that while the third law of motion applies to all corporeal change , he is. Therefore, in order to settle this question, I turn to the Fourth Meditation as well as the Second Meditation , where Descartes expounds his conception of human freedom most fully, and where something like the idea of continuous creation pace Bergson can be glimpsed. In the beginning of the Second Meditation Descartes summarizes the steps taken in hyperbolic doubt in the First Meditation :.
I will believe that none of the things my mendacious memory reports ever happened. I have no senses. Body, figure, extension, motion, and place are chimeras. So what remains true?
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Indeed, Descartes imagines that some omnipotent God is deceiving him whenever he adds two and three together or counts the sides of a square Descartes wrote to Mersenne on April 15th, Therefore, it is possible to doubt the fundamental structures of reality, namely, the eternal truths. At this juncture we might conclude that i n the same way as nothing can be said to be independent of God, nothing can be immune from the human power of doubt. We can doubt as many things as were created by the omnipotent God.
Now, the sole truth by which God can be said to be bound unconditionally is the truth of his own existence, which is described by Descartes as. But, just as God could not make himself not exist, the Cartesian self cannot doubt its own existence while it is doubting. Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something.
Then, we conclude that if we are doubting, then our existence is as undeniable and as immune to skepticism as the existence of God himself. Resemblance presupposes difference, non-identity. Second, while the existence of God is eternally necessary, the existence of the self is only necessary while it is cogitating Indeed, from the fact that I now exist it does not follow that I existed always and will always exist.
At any given time a human being can doubt its own existence at some other time. If doubt at the very least vouches the certainty of existence, then this existence can be fully counted on only at the time of doubt. By taking memory to be mendacious, therefore, Descartes cuts himself off from the past Appropriately, Descartes writes in the Second Meditation :. I am, I exist—that is certain. But for how long?
For as long as I am thinking. Then, the certainty of my existence is limited to the present moment, while the future and the past are fundamentally uncertain. Descartes writes to Arnauld on June 4th, Accordingly, in the Third Meditation Descartes writes that. For how could I understand that I doubted or desired—that is, lacked something—and that I was not wholly perfect, unless there were in me some idea of a more perfect being which enabled me to recognize my own defects by comparison?
The distance between my finite self and the infinite being, i. God, is thus, quite precisely, infinite and unbridgeable. From this it follows that God is utterly incomprehensible from the human standpoint. On the contrary, it is a corroborating evidence:.
Descartes writes towards the end of the Third Meditation :. In this way my memory can corroborate my present perceptions, thereby reducing the risk of error. When I am dreaming, it occurs quite often for something e. Then, while dreams admit breaks in the continuity of experience, wakeful existence does not. The latter thus entertains a much more considerable connection with memory than the state of dreaming which can be said to be somewhat independent from remembering.
Indeed, there is no wakeful experience as we know it without memory. Ultimately, then, it is exactly memory, i. Soon, struck with wonder at a deeper rumbling and rushing sounds like a torrent, I thirsted with great longing for the wider rivers of eloquence. But in truth, not satisfied with these, which of course excite a thirst for knowing without in any way assuaging it, I searched finally with keen application for that most immense ocean of the sciences and from that ocean all the streams flowing most abundantly in different directions.
Descartes's Theory of Mind
Indeed [I was] not so carried away by vainglorious folly that I, not thinking about the chains of my poverty, supposed that I could drink up even the single streamlet of any discipline, but when I was to have chosen some stream before the rest, by whose sweetest dew the thirst of my natural talents would be assuaged for the future, I longed to discern everything by experience. Nor did the laborious desire for knowledge weary me, until at last I perceived that the very pure well-springs of virtue and learning flow from you, so that thereafter I began to loathe the rest and only to value and pursue what is yours.
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- SparkNotes: Discourse on Method: Part Two.
That is to say lest my discourse perhaps gets a bit murky , I set you forth as the one thing out of all that I should admire and imitate. For so great is the purity of your life, so great the integrity of your customs, the sweetness of your conversation, the richness of your teaching, the brightness of your virtue, that nothing more could be desired to complete that most pleasant well-spring. For what else is there? According to Descartes, a cause must be at least as real or perfect as its effect.
"Newton's critique of Descartes's Theory of Motion" by Alex W Carmical
The idea of God however represents much more reality and perfection than the idea of himself, or of anything else. So, God exists. However, God might be a deceiver: God could have made Descartes have many false beliefs.
How then can Descartes be sure that he can trust any of his other beliefs besides the belief of his own existence? But how does he know that clear and distinct perception is always reliable? Stephen Gaukroger Cambridge, Descartes was in his mids by this point.
Descartes Life and Works Descartes Law Thesis
Such beliefs are typically called analytic a priori , since they are not based in sense-experience, and can be known purely by definition or reason. Some commentators argue that given his method of doubt in the Meditations , even simple inferences are put in question. That is, at this stage of the work, Descartes is not even sure that logic is reliable, and so cannot legitimately argue from premises to a conclusion that he exists.
Another way to explain the absence of the ergo is to point out that Descartes is seeking a foundational belief upon which to justify all of his other beliefs and therefore ground knowledge, and that for a belief to be properly foundational it must not stand in need of justification itself. Descartes also argues in Med. To show this, he uses the example of a piece of wax. Even when its sensory properties change through melting, hardening, changing color, etc.
So, the wax itself cannot be known through the senses.
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Also, the true essence of the wax is known through the senses, for the wax can take on a great, perhaps infinite, variety of shapes. In other words, everything has a place on the hierarchy of reality. Even the Bible seems to depict God as a father who lets his children us be deceived sometimes. But at this point in Meditation 3, he realizes that such a worry was overblown, for he now clearly and distinctly perceives that God would not allow us to be deceived in such a sweeping manner.