The trademark argument is an a priori argument for the existence of God developed by French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes. The argument, though similar to the ontological argument, differs in some respects, since it seeks to prove the existence of God through the causal adequacy principle (CAP) as opposed to analysing the definition of the word God.
|“||[S]ince I am a thinking thing, and have in me an idea of God, whatever finally the cause may be to which my nature is attributed, it must necessarily be admitted that the cause must equally be a thinking thing, and possess within it the idea of all the perfections that I attribute to the divine nature.||”|
—René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
The trademark argument can be analyzed (rational reconstruction if you prefer) as follows:
1. I have an idea of God.
2. Everything which exists has a cause.
3. Therefore, there is a cause of my idea of God.
3. There is a cause of my idea of God.
4. The cause of an effect must contain at least as much reality as the effect.
5. Therefore, the cause of my idea of God must contain at least as much reality as my idea of God.
5. The cause of my idea of God must contain at least as much reality as my idea of God.
6. The idea of God contains perfection.
7. Therefore, the cause of my idea of God must contain perfection.
7. The cause of my idea of God must contain perfection.
8. No being which is not God contains perfection.
9. Therefore, no being which is not God could be the cause of my idea of God.
9. No being which is not God could be the cause of my idea of God.
10. There is a cause for my idea of God.
11. Therefore, the cause of my idea of God must not be a being which is not God.
11. The cause of my idea of God must not be a being which is not God.
12. A being is either God, or it is not God.
13. Therefore, the cause of my idea of God is God.
13. The cause of my idea of God is God.
14. If something is the cause of something else, that something exists.
15. Therefore, God exists.
Criticisms of the Trademark Argument Edit
- The CAP compares the cause of ideas to the cause of objects, but, whereas objects often have straightforward causes, ideas do not.
- The CAP suggests a strong link between the cause of an object and its effect, but
- The ingredients of a strong bridge do not themselves contain strength.
- Sponge cake has many properties not present in the ingredients (e.g. sponginess)
- Gaunilo - I may have the concept of a perfect island. The perfection of this island would imply that it would exist, however this is not the case. A concept of something does not make it exist by adding the attribute of perfection.
- David Hume – The idea of God could be arrived at by considering qualities within oneself (wisdom, strength, goodness..) and magnifying them.
- Knowledge of God is not innate – it is taught to us. Descartes is wrong to compare it to knowledge of self. David Hume – All ideas come from impressions.
- If God is an innate idea, it is not clear why not everyone has one.
- René Descartes - "Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings"
- Hamilton - "Understanding Philosophy"
- Barton University