Does a Truly Ultimate God Need to Exist?

Sophia 58 (3):359-380 (2019)
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We explore a ‘Neo-Cartesian’ account of divine ultimacy that raises the concept of God to its ultimate level of abstraction so that we can do away with even the question of his existence. Our starting point is God’s relation to the logical and metaphysical order of reality and the views of Descartes and Leibniz on this topic. While Descartes held the seemingly bizarre view that the eternal truths are freely created by God, Leibniz stands for the mainstream view that the eternal truths are grounded in God’s nature. We argue that the implausibility of Descartes’ doctrine stems mainly from the assumption that there is a non-epistemic notion of absolute necessity that constitutes the ultimate court of appeal for all modal questions and that this assumption is questionable. We also question the assumption that God’s ultimacy merely requires that all reality be grounded in God in the sense of mere explanation, so that it suffices if the necessary truths are grounded in God’s nature but not in God’s will. This will lead us to a reassessment of Descartes’ position. In the final and main part of the paper, we push Descartes’ doctrine of the creation of the eternal truths to its ‘logical’ conclusion with the aim of getting to a novel conception of ‘God.’
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