Quote Originally Posted by Cheerful Charlie View Post
The rise of skepticism in the 1600's lead to concerns in the RCC of how to counter religious skepticism. The major response in France was to utilize natural religion, to prove God exists, following the example of Aquinas. Descartes disagreed. Natural religion was not working. More of the same would not work. Descartes thought that to fight skepticism, it was necessary to fight that on skepticism's grounds, philosophy. It was a rebirth of Greek skepticism that was the problem.

Descartes thought that correct response was to start from scratch, build philosophy on sound foundations, and having created sound foundations, working to sound theology and sound demonstrations of God's existence.

"I think, therefor I am" was Descarte's beginnings of his project to create a philosophy based on evidence. His project, to place theology on a sound and inarguable basis foundered on the mind/body problem.
I'm not sure how that fits with Descartes seemingly making sure he remained out of reach of the RCC by spending all his time out of France and more importantly out of Catholic countries once he started to publish. And he didn't even publish his most controversial papers. While it's obvious he really wanted somehow to prove God, it's also apparent that he was aware that his view of God was definitely a heretic one.

I believe he wasn't too keen on logic to begin with. He was essentially an empiricist who had realised what many today still haven't realised, that the mind was the only empirical reality. It's pathetic that he could have this quirky idea, like so many others at the time and still today, that you could hope to prove God on such a flimsy basis.

However, once he had accepted the incontrovertible fact of the mind/body dualism, he also tried to put empirical science itself on a sound footing, something which is just as hopeless as proving God. So, I think that, like most people, he kept his logical reasoning subservient to his ideology.

I guess what you say here is likely based on a thesis argued by some intellectual you've read at some point. Descartes is still today a hot topic in this respect. But this thesis doesn't seem to fit too well with the facts. It seems to me that Descartes view of God was somewhat influenced by the Protestant deistic perspective, definitely not something the RCC would have encouraged.

Also, Descartes' conclusion that the only thing you really know is your own mind must have appeared to the smart RCC people to be a straightforward claim that you cannot know God. I'm not a specialist, but I think Catholics believe in the intimate presence of God in us. Descartes Dualism bluntly falsified this notion. His futile attempt to prove God logically may be an indication that he became aware of that and that he tried desperately to salvage the possibility of believing in God once you had demonstrated it is possible to doubt even of your own body.
EB