Monday, September 9, 2013

Proving the Existence of God through Rational Deduction of Rene Descartes

By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

September 08, 2013

The French philosopher, scientist and mathematician, Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is considered to be the father of modern philosophy because of several reasons, but the most important of all is his radically new way of thinking which broke away from most of scholasticism ( a mixture of the Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology). And according to Bertrand Russell, “this had not happened since Aristotle, and is a sign of the new self-confidence that resulted from the progress of science.”

There was no one who could have imagined that doubt could lead to proof- proof of the infinite, perfect Being i.e., God. The question which Descartes is trying to answer is, ‘what can we know with certainty?’ we have, on the one hand, our scholastic tradition (this includes the thought of Aristotle and all the Medieval Christian thinkers and most especially of St Thomas Aquinas) on the other hand we have this new, exciting and “heretic” Galilean, Copernican science. How can we deduce objectively which is right?

The way to do this, according to Descartes, is to find a new foundation, of what some called the “Archimedean point” for all knowledge 2, 3. This point is the hypothetical point from where one can objectively perceive the subject with totality. The expression comes from Archimedes, who said that if given the right size of lever, and standing at the correct point he could lift the earth. Ever since then the notion of this point, this foundation point for all knowledge, has fascinated philosophers, and more especially to Descartes.

So what he hopes is to find some absolute crux of certainty, of which there can be no doubt. He is in search for that something, that foundation where he could base and derive all his knowledge. And the way to do this is- wait for it- try to doubt everything, yes everything. Question everything, doubt everything, think negatively as if nothing exists and see if any belief can’t be doubted 4.

His way of deducing things is very intriguing. He begins by doubting every belief, but he realises that he can’t list all his beliefs. So he categorises them in different branches and doubt each branch. The first thing he does is to ask that he experiences thousands of sense experience and all the “knowledge” which he has, are they genuine or are they dubitable?

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