Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes - Meditations on First Philosophy, in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated (Latin: Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, in qua Dei existentia et animæ immortalitas demonstratur) is a philosophical treatise by René Descartes first published in Latin in 1641. The French translation (by the Duke of Luynes with Descartes' supervision) was published in 1647 as Méditations Métaphysiques. The title may contain a misreading by the printer, mistaking animae immortalitas for animae immaterialitas, as suspected by A. Baillet.
Letter of dedication
To the most wise and illustrious the Dean and Doctors of the Sacred Faculty of Theology in Paris
Descartes says that he is asking the protection of the Faculty for his work, and to this end he writes the present dedication.
His first consideration is that the existence of God has to be demonstrated philosophically, besides the theological reasons for belief, particularly if we consider to make a demonstration for the non-believers. Moreover, the believers could be accused of making a circular reasoning, when saying that we must believe in God because of the Scriptures, and in the authority of the Scriptures because they have been inspired by God. He further indicates how the very Scriptures say that the mind of man is sufficient to discover God. His aim is to apply a method to demonstrate these two truths, in a so clear and evident manner that result to be evident. This method he has developed for the Sciences.
Preface to the reader
Descartes explains how he made a mention of the two questions, the existence of God, and the soul, in his Discourse on Method. Following this, he received objections, and two of them he considers are of importance. The first is how he concludes that the essence of the soul is a thing that thinks, excluding all other nature. To this he says that he has a clear perception that he is a thinking thing, and has no other clear perception, and from this he concludes that there is nothing else in the essence of the self.
The second is that from the idea I have of something that is more perfect than myself, it cannot be concluded that it exists. In the treatise we will see that in fact from the idea that there is something more perfect than myself, it follows that this exists.
It goes on to comment that on a general level the reasoning used by the atheists for denying the existence of God is based in the fact that "we ascribe to God affections that are human, or we attribute so much strength and wisdom to our minds" that we presume to understand that which God can and ought to do. He says that we have to consider God as incomprehensible and infinite, and our minds as limited and finite.