1. Post #1
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    I'm a philosophy minor, and lately, as it usually happens in these philosophy classes involving early modern philosophy, we've been discussing "The Meditations". Descartes' claim to fame, philosophically anyways, was the meditations, which helped him to become known as the "Father of modern philosophy." In the meditations, he discusses how one cannot trust the senses, and that you can be more sure of the existence of the soul and of God than of the existence of your own hand. However, I have found his argument to be quite shaky, especially when compared to Anselm's argument. To simplify Anselm's argument, which is more or less Descartes' argument:
    1) God is perfect in every way including existence
    2) Therefore God exists.
    The argument seems stupid and flawed to the untrained observer, so I shall provide some background on the argument. The theological and the philosophical God are a bit different. The theological God is based mostly on the Bible, while the philosophical God is more the idea of a perfect being, or "That of which none greater can be conceived." So God is more an idea than anything else in philosophy. So assuming that God is an idea that is self-causing (which is freaking ridiculous, but we'll avoid that topic for another thread) and is considered to be the triple O God, or Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent.
    The Argument of Evil is one of the main sources of opposition to the existence of the triple O God. It draws upon the point that if God is perfect, why does he allow evil in the world? If God is perfect, why did he let someone be raped, or let those people be killed, or even just let me fail that exam? I'm curious as to your opinions on these topics Facepunch.

    Links for those who want to look at these arguments a bit more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditat...rst_Philosophy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm%...m.27s_argument
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil

  2. Post #2
    despite his impact at the time, descartes is just a historical figure these days, the ideas of his that weren't subsumed entirely into later philosophies aren't taken seriously at all. it would be like continuing on with aristotelian physics

  3. Post #3
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    despite his impact at the time, descartes is just a historical figure these days, the ideas of his that weren't subsumed entirely into later philosophies aren't taken seriously at all. it would be like continuing on with aristotelian physics
    Have you ever heard of the Cartesian coordinate system? That was Descartes.

  4. Post #4
    Have you ever heard of the Cartesian coordinate system? That was Descartes.
    hence "ideas that weren't subsumed into later philosophies"

  5. Post #5
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    hence "ideas that weren't subsumed into later philosophies"
    His ideas spawned thousands of arguments and were the focus of thousands of philosophical papers, and still are today.

  6. Post #6
    sturgeon's law

  7. Post #7
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    That's mainly true for the internet and the news. Don't try to discredit my research by using mostly unheard of quips.

  8. Post #8
    no really, 99.5% of philosophy is complete shit

  9. Post #9
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    If you're not going to even talk about what I posted, and only try to deny the whole thing without providing any evidence, then just leave.

  10. Post #10
    if you're actually having trouble disproving the ontological argument, or with the three Os in general, then you are the 99.5%

  11. Post #11
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    icemaz's Avatar
    June 2007
    7,033 Posts
    I think the Meditations are a good thing to read but they don't really hold any Philosophical ground in modern times. There are bits which are interesting (I liked the First and Second with the whole untrusting of the senses) but as a whole the Meditations shouldn't really be used in modern philosophy.

  12. Post #12
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    I think the Meditations are a good thing to read but they don't really hold any Philosophical ground in modern times. There are bits which are interesting (I liked the First and Second with the whole untrusting of the senses) but as a whole the Meditations shouldn't really be used in modern philosophy.
    I agree, they shouldn't be used in today's society, but they did help pave the way for a new era of philosophy.

  13. Post #13
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    icemaz's Avatar
    June 2007
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    I agree, they shouldn't be used in today's society, but they did help pave the way for a new era of philosophy.
    Oh no yeah there's no doubt and I would definitely tell anyone interested in Philosophy to read them because it does help you understand the history of Philosophy.

  14. Post #14
    I think bacon had more to do with that

  15. Post #15
    Gold Member

    May 2005
    2,268 Posts
    Anselm's argument doesn't work because existence isn't a property. Kant demolished this argument ages ago.

  16. Post #16
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    Anselm's argument doesn't work because existence isn't a property. Kant demolished this argument ages ago.
    Good point. Indeed he did.

  17. Post #17
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    Splarg!'s Avatar
    September 2005
    2,401 Posts
    This topic is broken. You can't say this:

    1) God is perfect in every way including existence
    2) Therefore God exists.
    The argument seems stupid and flawed to the untrained observer, so I shall provide some background on the argument. The theological and the philosophical God are a bit different. The theological God is based mostly on the Bible, while the philosophical God is more the idea of a perfect being, or "That of which none greater can be conceived." So God is more an idea than anything else in philosophy
    And then draw up the question:

    It draws upon the point that if God is perfect, why does he allow evil in the world? If God is perfect, why did he let someone be raped, or let those people be killed, or even just let me fail that exam?
    As if Decartes' theory DID prove that there's a man in the sky who makes things happen.

  18. Post #18
    The rebuke I like to use for Anselm is

    'The Shittest Thing Ever' is defined as "that than which no shittier can be conceived"
    It exists in imagination.
    It would be even worse if it existed in real life
    Therefore the entire Universe is tiled with shit.

  19. Post #19
    Gold Member
    Robbobin's Avatar
    June 2007
    8,024 Posts
    Yeah, one of my first year modules literally used the Meditations as philosophy target practice. Substance Dualism is full of problems in its most charitable modern form, and in Descartes' form, laughable.

    Edited:

    I think people even give his scepticism too much credit. Hume's scepticism is infinitely more sophisticated. Most of the arguments in the Meditations are purely intuitive, and even then they only work on someone who's already assumed the conclusion.

  20. Post #20
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    I agree, I quite enjoyed reading Hume's arguments as well.

    Edited:

    This topic is broken. You can't say this:



    And then draw up the question:



    As if Decartes' theory DID prove that there's a man in the sky who makes things happen.
    I'm posting what Descartes said. I'm an atheist as well, I'm simply trying to have a logical debate about this.

  21. Post #21
    there isn't a logical debate, just move on

  22. Post #22
    Dennab
    October 2010
    1,436 Posts
    I'm not religious, but I always thought that the existence of evil argument is flawed, at least in terms of theism. If God existed, the existence of evil wouldn't necessarily disprove him - God very well may just be a dick, or the idea of evil may play into machinations greater than ours.

  23. Post #23
    MEGA SENPAI KAWAII UGUU~~ =^_^=
    Megafan's Avatar
    September 2008
    14,600 Posts
    I'm not religious, but I always thought that the existence of evil argument is flawed, at least in terms of theism. If God existed, the existence of evil wouldn't necessarily disprove him - God very well may just be a dick, or the idea of evil may play into machinations greater than ours.
    But that would require the assumption that such an entity does exist, for which there is no concrete evidence. Almost all theists I've seen resort to a variation on the argument that god is outside time/logic/reason/etc.

    This, I think, takes the improbability of a god to a higher level.

  24. Post #24
    Gold Member

    May 2005
    2,268 Posts
    I'm not religious, but I always thought that the existence of evil argument is flawed, at least in terms of theism. If God existed, the existence of evil wouldn't necessarily disprove him - God very well may just be a dick, or the idea of evil may play into machinations greater than ours.
    The problem of evil only applies to the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god. Naturally if you want to worship an evil god, then the problem of evil does not apply.

    As far as the "idea of evil may play into machinations greater than ours" claim, that is just drifting out into "god is above human reasoning" territory. And like I said in the other thread, if god works outside of logic, then we can't use logic to try to prove he exists in the first place.

  25. Post #25
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    icemaz's Avatar
    June 2007
    7,033 Posts
    I'm not religious, but I always thought that the existence of evil argument is flawed, at least in terms of theism. If God existed, the existence of evil wouldn't necessarily disprove him - God very well may just be a dick, or the idea of evil may play into machinations greater than ours.
    Descartes was into the whole "God as a perfect being" and as such him being a perfect being in our minds requires the property of existence, ergo God exists. For something to be evil would to not be perfect in our eyes which throws that whole idea out the window.

  26. Post #26
    Gekkosan's Avatar
    October 2010
    5,668 Posts
    If God is perfect, why did he let someone be raped, or let those people be killed, or even just let me fail that exam?
    You said it yourself, and it doesn't take an entire another thread to say:

    God is more an idea than anything.

    And that's that. So what does the idea "God" mean? Absolutely good, reasonable, ruthless, loving..? Not necessarily just Omnipotent and Omniscient and Omnibenevolent, because YOU are the next best thing TO God.

  27. Post #27
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    You said it yourself, and it doesn't take an entire another thread to say:


    Not necessarily just Omnipotent and Omniscient and Omnibenevolent, because YOU are the next best thing TO God.
    Descartes thought the same thing.

  28. Post #28
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    kidwithsword's Avatar
    May 2007
    3,195 Posts
    Descartes was into the whole "God as a perfect being" and as such him being a perfect being in our minds requires the property of existence, ergo God exists. For something to be evil would to not be perfect in our eyes which throws that whole idea out the window.
    So Descartes' argument was essentially if we can imagine something then it must exist?

  29. Post #29
    Gold Member

    May 2005
    2,268 Posts
    So Descartes' argument was essentially if we can imagine something then it must exist?
    It was originally Anselm of Canterbury's argument, called the ontological argument. The general idea is that a being that does not exist is less perfect than a being that does exist, therefore if god is the most perfect being imaginable, he must exist.

    The argument actually appears sound when it's laid out in the form of a logical argument. The problem with it lies in the fact that existence is not a property, as demonstrated by Kant.

  30. Post #30
    truebluesniper's Avatar
    August 2009
    67 Posts
    dainbramage studios you need to shut the fuck up fag

    (User was banned for this post ("Flaming" - Orkel))

  31. Post #31
    Lilyo's Avatar
    October 2011
    2,281 Posts
    The God Delusion posted:
    Another philosopher, the Australian Douglas Gasking, made the point with his ironic 'proof that God does not exist (Anselm's contemporary Gaunilo had suggested a somewhat similar reductio).

    1. The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement
    imaginable.

    2. The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic
    quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.

    3. The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more
    impressive the achievement.

    4. The most formidable handicap for a creator would be nonexistence.

    5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator we can conceive a greater being - namely, one who created everything while not existing.

    6. An existing God therefore would not be a being greater than which a greater cannot be conceived because an even more formidable and incredible creator would be a God which did not
    exist.

    Ergo:

    7. God does not exist.


    Needless to say, Gasking didn't really prove that God does not exist. By the same token, Anselm didn't prove that he does. The only difference is, Gasking was being funny on purpose. As he realized, the existence or non-existence of God is too big a question to be decided by 'dialectical prestidigitation'. And I don't think the slippery use of existence as an indicator of perfection is the worst of the argument's problems. I've forgotten the details, but I once piqued a gathering of theologians and philosophers by adapting the ontological argument to prove that pigs can fly. They felt the need to resort to Modal Logic to prove that I was wrong.


    E: I might as well quote the rest of the section that Dawkins argues against Anslem's little play on words.
    The God Delusion posted:
    Arguments for God's existence fall into two main categories, the apriori and the a posteriori. Thomas Aquina s' five are a posteriori arguments, relying upon inspection of the world. The most famous of the a priori arguments, those that rely upon pure armchair ratiocination, is the ontological argument, proposed by St Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 and restated in different forms by numerous philosophers ever since. An odd aspect of Anselm's argument is that it was originally addressed not to humans but to God himself, in the form of a prayer (you'd think that any entity capable of listening to a prayer would need no convincing of his own existence). It is possible to conceive, Anselm said, of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. Even an atheist can conceive of such a superlative being, though he would deny its existence in the real world. But, goes the argument, a being that doesn't exist in the real world is, by that very fact, less than perfect. Therefore we have a contradiction and, hey presto, God exists!

    Let me translate this infantile argument into the appropriate language, which is the language of the playground:

    'Bet you I can prove God exists.'
    'Bet you can't.'
    'Right then, imagine the most perfect perfect perfect thing possible.'
    'Okay, now what?'
    'Now, is that perfect perfect perfect thing real? Does it exist?'
    'No, it's only in my mind.'
    'But if it was real it would be even more perfect, because a really really perfect thing would have to be better than a silly old imaginary thing. So I've proved that God exists. Nur Nurny Nur Nur. All atheists are fools.'
    I had my childish wiseacre choose the word 'fools' advisedly.


    Anselm himself quoted the first verse of Psalm 14,
    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,' and he had the cheek to use the name 'fool' (Latin insipiens) for his hypothetical atheist: Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understanding. And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For, suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater.”

    The very idea that grand conclusions could follow from such logomachist trickery offends me aesthetically, so I must take care to refrain from bandying words like 'fool'. Bertrand Russell (no fool) interestingly said, 'It is easier to feel convinced that [the ontological argument] must be fallacious than it is to find out precisely where the fallacy lies.' Russell himself, as a young man, was briefly convinced by it:
    I remember the precise moment, one day in 1894, as I was walking along Trinity Lane, when I saw in a flash (or thought I saw) that the ontological argument is valid. I had gone out to buy a tin of tobacco; on my way back, I suddenly threw it up in the air, and exclaimed as I caught it: 'Great Scott, the ontological argument is sound.'

    Why, I wonder, didn't he say something like: 'Great Scott, the ontological argument seems to be plausible. But isn't it too good to be true that a grand truth about the cosmos should follow from a mere word game? I'd better set to work to resolve what is perhaps a paradox like those of Zeno.' The Greeks had a hard time seeing through Zeno's 'proof that Achilles would never catch the tortoise.* But they had the sense not to conclude that therefore

    * Zeno's paradox is too well known for the details to be promoted out of a footnote. Achilles can run ten times as fast as the tortoise, so he gives the animal, say,100 yards' start. Achilles runs 100 yards, and the tortoise is now 10 yards ahead. Achilles runs the 10 yards and the tortoise is now 1 yard ahead. Achilles runs the 1 yard, and the tortoise is still a tenth of a yard ahead . . . and so on ad infinitum, so Achilles never catches the tortoise.

    Achilles really would fail to catch the tortoise. Instead, they called it a paradox and waited for later generations of mathematicians to explain it (with, as it turned out, the theory of infinite series converging on a limiting value). Russell himself, of course, was as well qualified as anyone to understand why no tobacco tins should be thrown up in celebration of Achilles' failure to catch the tortoise. Why didn't he exercise the same caution over St Anselm? I suspect that he was an exaggeratedly fair-minded atheist, over-eager to be disillusioned if logic seemed to require it.* Or perhaps the answer lies in something Russell himself wrote in 1946, long after he had rumbled the ontological argument:


    The real question is: Is there anything we can think of which, by the mere fact that we can think of it, is shown to exist outside our thought? Every philosopher would like to say yes, because a philosopher's job is to find out things about the world by thinking rather than observing. If yes is the right answer, there is a bridge from pure thought to things. If not, not.

    My own feeling, to the contrary, would have been an automatic, deep suspicion of any line of reasoning that reached such a significant conclusion without feeding in a single piece of data from the real world. Perhaps that indicates no more than that I am a scientist rather than a philosopher. Philosophers down the centuries have indeed taken the ontological argument seriously, both for and against. The atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie gives a particularly clear discussion in The Miracle of Theism. I mean it as a compliment when I say that you could almost define a philosopher as someone who won't take common sense for an answer.


    The most definitive refutations of the ontological argument areusually attributed to the philosophers David Hume (1711-76) andImmanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant identified the trick card upAnselm's sleeve as his slippery assumption that 'existence' is more'perfect' than non-existence. The American philosopher Norman
    Malcolm put it like this: 'The doctrine that existence is a perfectionis remarkably queer. It makes sense and is true to say that my futurehouse will be a better one if it is insulated than if it is not insulated; but what could it mean to say that it will be a better house if itexists than if it does not?'

  32. Post #32
    Gekkosan's Avatar
    October 2010
    5,668 Posts
    Descartes thought the same thing.
    I just think that God (being a symbol of goodness, like Jesus) would only wish that Humans do what's right by them, making God proud in a way. That would be me squeezing my beliefs into a single sentence.

  33. Post #33
    Gold Member
    wraithcat's Avatar
    December 2007
    12,581 Posts
    Isn't the essential answer to the Anseln argument that god is essentially existance. From the logical standpoint that it is an omnipotent entity, it is all encompassing and cannot be held outside of the system.

    It's essentially taking the entire system and calling it such. Hence being all encompassing it includes both good and evil and is strictly neutral to both as the system cannot really influence itself.

  34. Post #34
    Gold Member
    Robbobin's Avatar
    June 2007
    8,024 Posts
    That's not Anselm's argument though.

    Saying that everything = god is philosophically trivial because all you're doing is defining something as such.

  35. Post #35
    newbs's Avatar
    December 2007
    634 Posts
    Existence is NOT a predicate.

  36. Post #36
    matsta's Avatar
    September 2009
    347 Posts
    Just as someone already said. The Cartesian argument for the existence of god was disproved a while ago by Kant.

  37. Post #37
    Gold Member
    Devodiere's Avatar
    November 2009
    10,732 Posts
    The best answer I've heard in relation to it is that reality does not have to adhere to the logic of the human brain. Our minds and our logic is only a best guess system and it makes about as much sense bringing it to that conclusion as dividing by zero giving a depiction of infinity in reality.

    Our imaginations least of all shoud be relied upon for logic as it is the least influenced by logic.

  38. Post #38
    Gold Member
    Robbobin's Avatar
    June 2007
    8,024 Posts
    Erm guys, the Meditations isn't the proof for the existence of God. You seem to be getting confused with Anselm's argument or something because there's very little in the way of proof for God's existence in it. He appeals to the concept of God in order to prove the world must exist, but as far as I'm aware he doesn't attempt to prove that. It's one of the main dissatisfactions with the Meditations; it argues circularly and implies the existence of the world (which he was sceptical of) or of God.

    Edited:

    I'm not really sure how I didn't notice this before.

    But Descartes argument is entirely distinct from the ontological argument and to equivocate them is flat out wrong.

  39. Post #39
    Gold Member
    Simski's Avatar
    February 2007
    13,118 Posts
    1) God is perfect in every way including existence
    2) Therefore God exists.
    1) Googly eyed goldman James with the power to do anything is perfect in every way including existence.
    2) Therefor googly eyed goldman James with the power to do anything exists.

  40. Post #40
    GOD FUCKING DAMNIT
    KILLTHIS's Avatar
    September 2005
    1,354 Posts
    I don't really know about the argument of "Therefore God Exists" - wouldn't this be simplified into:

    "Everything is perfect, therefore perfection exists" - and not "Everything is perfect, therefore god exists" - which would require the definition of god as in the OP mentioned "Tripple O-God". But then I have to ask, if we decide to define a being such as "god", what gives us proof of our descripton?

    It's a bit too hypothetical - it's philosophy, yes - but it's somewhat sluggish. It's an opinion on "god" (I don't question the existence of god here, I'm just about the definition). Calling him "perfect" would be OUR vision about god, calling him perfect in every way - but what if god is not perfect, but capable of a lot of things, therefore making him omnipotent? Than he is neither willing nor benevolent - but at least has the possibility to change / alter / create / destroy things. So I wouldn't go for a "Tripple O-God" but for an "Omnipotent but not perfect" god - if you go for it at all.