The Meditations of Rene Descartes

What are innate ideas according to Descartes
Rene Descartes is of the view that ideas maybe considered as innate and adventitious
Innate ideas are those which do not depend on the perceptions and will of the persons. These ideas are inherently present and it lies within the reasoning of the mind while adventitious ideas, on the other hand, are those that lie within the reasoning of the mind. According to Descartes, all innate ideas are but clear and distinct concepts of the reality. This philosopher heavily depends on his concept of innate ideas in order to create his argument about the existence of God. According to him, everybody has an innate idea of the existence and nature of God (last name of the author, year).

A very typical example of Descartes innate ideas is belief in the philosophy that I think therefore I am. He also believe that mens concept of God is also innate because innate essentially means built-in. There is something innate in each and every person because these ideas do not come from instinct these are born inside every person because these ideas are part of mens nature. Because Descartes did not trust his experiences and senses, he therefore clings to his belief in mens innate ideas. As brilliant as Descartes philosophy is, his notion of innate ideas is problematic because he did not mean it to be instincts. Instincts are positive just like a new born baby crying whenever he needs something and this is not what Descartes was talking about. He is talking of actual full-blown idea and not just an impulse because the idea of God being infinitely perfect and powerful is not an instinct, it is an idea. He encountered a lot of criticism about this because of the question of how can a man think about God in a magnificent way by simply being born with this thought and not hearing it from somebody else.
On the basis of the very basic idea that men have of God, the problem of Descartes is that he has to use the idea that he thinks is innate of God in order to get rid of the evil deceiver argument in order to bridge the gap between the mind and world. For him to be successful in this endeavor, he must first prove the existence of God on the basis of the idea of God alone and not by looking around the world. He has a few arguments to this effect that are premised on the theories of great men before him. His first argument is that Gods objective reality guarantees his formal reality. It means that the objective reality is an idea and the formal reality is the object which is drawn from Aristotles notion of causation. His objective reality of God is so immense that there is no way that it could have been invented by any men. He argues that the idea of God which is infinitely perfect and wise could not have come from a finite mind so God must have put it in mens thoughts. It has to come from somewhere because nothing comes from nothing and nothing spontaneously appears out of nowhere, hence God exists.

The wax thought experiment in the second meditation gives a perfect illustration of a process of digging the so-called innate. This thought experiment aims to aid the meditator in reaching a pure state of mental scrutiny. Descartes believe that the minds serve as storage of intellectual concepts or ideas that derive its content from the minds own nature. It is also interesting to note that Descartes also think that even sensory ideas maybe classified as those having innate content (last name of the author, year).

As a philosopher as well, I am of the firm view that the first doctrine of Descartes as to innateness of the ideas are true but only insofar as they are derived from the minds nature alone but not to the sensory experiences.

What is the difference between understanding and imagination
In his sixth meditation, Descartes was able to explain the difference between the imagination and ones own understanding. For Descartes, meditation is merely one of the steps in finding out whether or not a material world is indeed in existence. He explains his point by way of illustration. He must first figure out whether or not he can believe in things which he has a clearly distinct perception and in order to do that, he turns to geometry to illustrate his point. When one person imagines a three-sided image, one does not merely understand the boundaries but the mind is also able to see the three lines intersecting with the minds eye as if it were right in front of him this is imagination (last name of the author, year).

However, if one would like to think of a figure with a thousand sides, one does not do it in the same way by thinking that it is right in front of his eyes but if he is thinking of a figure with five sides, one can imagine it by making the five sides meet. It can therefore be observed that imagination necessitates an unusual effort coming from the mental faculties which is not required in a mere understanding this extra effort undoubtedly illustrates the difference between imagination and understanding (last name of the author, year).

How does he use these notions to arrive at his conclusions in the Meditations Does this seem like a legitimate conception of matters Why or why not

Descartes is of the view that what matters most is not the conclusion but the method used to arrive at such conclusion. It is indeed strange that one of the greatest philosophical minds in history would give his conclusion and agree that persons have bodies after all and that the world is indeed in existence. A quick perusal of his ingenuity would lead one to conclude that Descartes did not waste years of study in order to prove that there is indeed a form of truth that existed and that there is a possibility of finding it. He concludes by declaring that it is tolerable to allow ones senses to transport information to the brains  as long as the person applies his intellect to that particular information (last name of the author, year).

Many people argued that this does not seem like a legitimate conception of matters because of Descartes unconventional ways but I beg to disagree. This rare kind of thinking allows people to explore all possible angles both logically and imaginatively speaking. Descartes left an unforgettable legacy by his magnificent chain of logic which cannot be exercised by anybody else.


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