Monday, January 17, 2005

Descartes on Creation, Production, and Procreation

An interesting passage in Descartes's replies to the Fifth Objections (Adam-Tannery VII 373; CSM 257):

You prefer to compare the creation of God to the labour of a workman rather than to parental procreation, but you have no reason to do so. Even if the three modes of action involved here are completely different in kind, nevertheless the analogy between natural procreation and divine creation is closer than that between artificial production and divine creation. I did not say, however, that the resemblance between us and God is as close as that between children and parents. Again, it is not always true that there is no resemblance between the work of a craftsman and the craftsman himself, as is clear in the case of a sculptor who produces a statue resembling himself.


This is in response to Gassendi (AT VII 306; CSM 213):

The fact that he created you, you say, makes it reasonable to believe you resemble him. On the contrary, this fact makes such a resemblance utterly unlikely, sinc eth work is not similar to the workman except when he engenders it by communicating his nature to it. But you are not begotten of God in this way: you are not his offspring, or a participator in his nature, but are merely created by him, that is, produced by him in accordance with an idea. Hence you cannot say that you resemble him any more than a house resembles a bricklayer.


Which in turn is a response to Descartes's claim in the Third Meditation (AT VII 51; CSM 35):

But the mere fact that God created me is a very strong basis for believing that I am somehow made in his image and likeness, and that I perceive that likeness, which includes the idea of God, by the same faculty which enables me to perceive myself.


I found the insistence that procreation is a better analogy for creation than production an interesting one.

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