Given the context of philosophical ideas such as tabula rasa, empiricism, and rationalism, René Descartes is known for his philosophy of mind and his attempt to analyze thinking as well as his advocacy of innatism and rationalism. Among his writing is the notion of Perfection. According to his epistemology, is Perfection an Innate idea or a Factitious idea created by combining the idea of actual infinite with the idea of attributes?

  • The Corpus Descartes (at unicaen.fr) gives 266 occurrences for the word. Descartes maintained the old notion about "degrees of reality" or "perfection" and uses the word repeatedly in his Responses. Finding a good quote requires some patience but "innate idea" looks as a sure bet.
    – sand1
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 10:49
  • 1
    Welcome to SE Philosophy! Thanks for your contribution. Please take a quick moment to take the tour or find help. You can perform searches here or seek additional clarification at the meta site. Don't forget, when someone has answered your question, you can click on the arrow to reward the contributor and the checkmark to select what you feel is the best answer.
    – J D
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 16:25
  • Edited to avoid 'details or clarity' objection.
    – J D
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


When it comes to the notion of Perfection in his philosophy, Descartes believed that the idea of a perfect being (i.e., God) is innate within us. He argued that we possess certain ideas innately, and the idea of God as a supremely perfect being is one of them.

In his "Meditations on First Philosophy," Descartes presents an argument for the existence of God based on the idea that we have a clear and distinct idea of a perfect being, even though we ourselves are imperfect. He contends that this idea could not have originated from us, as we are imperfect beings and cannot produce the idea of a perfect entity on our own. Therefore, this idea must have been implanted in us by such a perfect being, i.e., God.

To directly answer your question: According to Descartes' epistemology, the idea of Perfection (as it pertains to a perfect being) is an Innate idea. It is not a factitious idea created by combining other concepts. The idea of God's perfection is something we have without deriving it from our experiences or constructing it from other ideas.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .