What Does Knowledge of God Mean?June 27, 2021
Descartes thinks that he cannot pass from the thinking ego, the existence of his spiritual substance, to his bodily existence, in other words, to the substance of matter. For this will be a dubious transition; there is no direct relationship between them.
However, since the thinking substance means soul or mind in classical terms, he looks at what other clear and distinct kinds of information or awareness there may be besides the consciousness of the ego existence of this cogito that his mind finds. And there he immediately finds the concept of God. His reasoning is as follows: He claims that he has an idea of competence in his mind, that he cannot produce this idea, because he is not a perfect being. This thought could not have come to him from the outside world either, because the outside world and the things in this world are also not perfect. So, this thought must have been given to his mind by a self-perpetuating being. This perfect being can be none other than God. So God really exists outside of the human mind. We humans also have a clear and distinct idea-concept, that is, knowledge. Therefore, it is a certain information; we can become aware of this information intuitively.
At this point, Descartes gives an example from the history of philosophy to prove God. This is the reasoning of Saint Anselmus, one of the famous thinkers of early scholasticism, known as “ontological proof”. This proof is related to revealing the existence of something as a result, starting from its concept. Therefore, according to the definition of God, he is the most perfect and real (ens realissimum) being. Let’s think of God once as existing, and once as non-existent. When we think of God as existing, nothing will decrease in his beautiful qualities, including existence. This is compatible with the most real existence of God. However, if we think of God as non-existent, his existence-existence quality will be diminished. This deficiency is incompatible with the definition of God, that is, with his being the most real and perfect. Therefore, non-existence and the concept of God are incompatible; then there is God. With these arguments, Descartes also eliminated the possibility that God was a deceitful, evil demon, as he dealt with in the doubt process. God exists as we know him in our minds, and the knowledge of his existence is clear knowledge. Since God has placed his own knowledge in our minds, this knowledge is innate in us. Undoubtedly, self-cogito knowledge is also an innate form of awareness in us.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook