Meditations Four and Five Study Questions

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  1. Explain Descartes’ analysis of the nature of errors. How does this analysis show that his status as a being capable of error does not indicate any imperfection on the part of God? How does it show that he bears a certain image and likeness of God? (AT 56-57)
  2. Explain Descartes’ analysis of willing. When does he think he is most free? How does he understand indifference? (AT 57-58)
  3. What, ultimately, does Descartes understand to be the source of his errors? (AT 58)
  4. At the beginning of Meditation Five, Descartes proposes that, before inquiring whether material things exist outside of him, he should consider his ideas of them as they exist in his thought (AT 63). He notes that some of these ideas, even though he thinks them when he chooses, are not fabricated by him (AT 64). What considerations show this to be true? (AT 64) Why is it irrelevant to suggest that the idea of a triangle comes to him from external things through the sense organs? (around AT 65)
  5. At the conclusion of Meditation Five, Descartes declares that “the certainty and truth of every science depends exclusively on the knowledge of the true God” (AT 71). Explain the reasoning by which he reaches this conclusion. (AT 69-71)
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