Term Paper: Robert Nozick in His Book

Pages: 4 (1468 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Descartes states that because he cannot conceive of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God. The existence of God is what determines this. Descartes is not free to think of God without existence, for existence is a supreme perfection and God is a supreme being. The mere fact that Descartes can conceive of God as existing also means that he cannot conceive of God as not existing, for God would then not be a perfect being. Descartes' argument is a variation on that offered centuries before by St. Anselm of Canterbury, who stated that conceiving of God was to conceive of something than which nothing greater can be conceived, and such a thing cannot exist in the understanding alone.

Descartes also makes a distinction between ideas which do not possess true and immutable natures and those which are invented and put together by the intellect. Ideas put together by the intellect can be taken apart by the intellect. An idea that the intellect cannot separate is an idea that was not created by the intellect. The idea of God is again compared to ideas in mathematics. Descartes says he can conceive of a horse with wings but knows that he can also think of a horse without wings. He cannot think of a triangle that does not have three sides. When he thinks of a triangle, it has certain essential elements that must be there for it to be a triangle. The three angles must be equal to two right angles for him to assert that this is a triangle, and the triangle cannot be conceived without these essentials. Following this reasoning, the fact that he can conceive of God as existing proves the existence of God.

Essentially, this argument holds that God must exist because we think he exists. Nozick sets forth four rquirements for a being to be called God, but the fact that he can think of God in these terms still does not prove that God exists. This is little more than another way of stating faith. The kind of proof Nozick asks for is of a higher order, though such proof ultimately comes down to little more than a recognition that faith may be the only way to recognize that God exists. In a way, Nozick argues not that God does not exist and not even that a belief in God is not justified or is unreasonable. Rather, he is arguing that one does not need perfect proof in order to believe in God, and that neither should more than faith be required. At the same time, he is finally arguing against dogmatism or the insistence that one's faith is infallible and that everyone must share it or be in error. This is a reasonable position to take, though it is quite different from the dogmatic position many true believers do take. Nozick never does establish the nature of God, though he does establish the nature of Faith. The nature of God can be established in terms of belief, but not in terms of science or reality. God's existence cannot be proven, and yet the logic that attempts to do so can also not show that the existence of God is disproven. In simplest terms, faith means acceptance and belief. For the believer, it implies a communion with God and an immediate understanding that the love of God is returned. Yet, the question of faith is so vital that it has been examined from a wide variety of viewpoints, and in addition it seems to engender some controversy because the issue of faith, like other issues of religious belief, is interpreted by human beings who then may impose their beliefs on others. Nozick's argument is most effective in showing why imposing these beliefs on others is not justified, though personal belief is. His argument supports the validity of personal belief though he cannot prove or disprove the object of that belief. His analysis suggests that no one can, and his logic does lead to precisely that conclusion. His argument places a belief in God firmly in the realm of faith rather than scientific proof, which is where it began and where it logically belongs.

Works Cited

Nozick, Robert. The Examined Life:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Robert Nozick in His Book.  (2002, October 17).  Retrieved July 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/robert-nozick-book/4700827

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"Robert Nozick in His Book."  Essaytown.com.  October 17, 2002.  Accessed July 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/robert-nozick-book/4700827.