“I think it proper to remain here for some time in the contemplation of God himself — that I may ponder at leisure his marvelous attributes — and behold, admire, and adore the beauty of this light so unspeakably great, as far, at least, as the strength of my mind, which is to some degree dazzled by the sight, will permit. For just as we learn by faith that the supreme felicity of another life consists in the contemplation of the Divine majesty alone, so even now we learn from experience that a like meditation, though incomparably less perfect, is the source of the highest satisfaction of which we are susceptible in this life.” – Descartes 3rd Meditation
I found this chapter a lot more complicated than the previous two. It’s quite easy to become perplexed by the detail of a particular part and lose sight of the overall thread of the argument. Some of the parts I didn’t really understand, or wasn’t convinced by, and so when it comes to trying to piece it back together again, it eluded my grasp.
That said, when I consider it not as an argument intended to persuade the reader of God’s existence but as part of his method of establishing certainty then I find it easier to follow. That is, putting to one side beliefs about God, which I think would have fundamentally been a matter of faith for Descartes, and instead seeing that at this point in the Meditations we are at a stage where our existence as a thinking substance is established beyond doubt, but all we can say about our thoughts are that they seem to be of real things – not that they actually represent something real. The problem is getting back outside of our minds and so finding a way that ideas are caused by, or represent, something external.