As an overview, Cleanthes is described as a philosopher that has a calm disposition. Demea is the one more concerned in the cause of religion. Philo is the arbiter or mediator between the ideas presented by Cleanthes and Demea. Cleanthes was wondering why Demea was insisting that the Deity had no resemblance to humans in terms of human mind and understanding. For Cleanthes, the Deity has powers that humans cannot comprehend, for that is its nature––unexplainable. Though incomprehensible, Cleanthes recognized the Deity as a supreme being.Cleanthes also questioned Demea what was the difference of those who believed in the Deity and those who were Sceptics or Atheists. Atheists believed that the first cause of all was an unknown being. Atheists do not recognize the existence of a Deity. Atheists have boldness. Not only they had rejected the production by a mind, they also pretend to assign intelligible cause. Demea replied and commented that Cleanthes had presented his thoughts concerning the Deity with criticism instead of reasoning.
Demea presented the comparison between the Deity and humans since Cleanthes said that the Deity is similar to the way humans think and understand. A human mind is filled with ideas, feelings, passions, and different faculties. And the human mind varies from one person to another. Though they vary from one another, the ideas they presented have form or order. The Deity has a perfect nature. He is able to see into the past, into the present, and into the future. Also, unlike the human mind that can change from one instance to another, the Deity has a fixed and firmed decision.
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The presence of the Deity is felt by those who believe in it. He is present everywhere, unlike humans who can only exist in one place at a certain point in time. Cleanthes again commented based on Demea’s words. With the way Demea explained, Cleanthes said that those “who maintain the perfect simplicity of the Supreme Being” were considered Atheists, yet they were unaware of it. For if we recognized the existence of the Deity, and since we know that his characteristics are incomprehensible, humans must give the Deity the respect he deserves.
As humans, it is but natural to give due respect to the Deity. However, humans who do not give due respect to the Deity are diverging to the accustomed way of the Deity’s nature. It all bois down to human mind and the way it perceives things. Those who do not respect the Deity have restricted their minds to think of ways to give glory to the Deity. A mind that thinks with simplicity cannot think of creative reasoning and normally inclined to what is common, or to something that has no uniqueness at all.
Demea chose to believe in the “perfect simplicity” of the Deity. The way we defined simplicity does not describe the true nature of the Deity, for the Deity’s mind definitely does not think simply. Same with humans, the Deity’s way of thinking is complicated yet creative. Philo, upon hearing the exchange of ideas between Cleanthes and Demea, argued that in order to know “the cause of that Being whom you suppose the Author of Nature,” they could judge the matter by reason or by experience. With reasoning we are able to explain the cause of every idea we thought of.
We explain things based on reasoning that involves a whole lot of mind thinking. With experience we are able to explain the cause based on what we had experienced or what others had experienced. And because experience differs from one person to another, no two individual can think exactly alike. In reasoning, the mental world and the material world both need a cause. In experience, the material world is much easier to comprehend than the mental world because the material world is tangible unlike the mental world or the world of ideas.
Philo continued to argue that in order to understand the cause of the Author of Nature why not consider focusing on the present material world. What is beyond the material world is vague and unknown. It is like saying to be contended on what we presently know about the Deity or God and do not worry ourselves on what is incomprehensible to us. The most important is that we know that there is a God. Philo added that some philosophers were ignorant and yet they disguised to know explanation to some matters.
Such philosophers were called Peripatetics they would reason out and yet they were not really knowledgeable of the matter. They took advantage of those who were unaware of the matter. The matter on having an order in the ideas of the Supreme Being was an example. Some philosophers explained that having order is just one of the natures of the Deity. Cleanthes commented that Philo’s arguments were easy to answer. Cleanthes gave an example that if he were assigned cause for an event, would there be a problem if he could not tell the cause of that cause?
For Cleanthes, knowing the Deity is the most important. He had stopped his inquiries and settled on the fact that there is a Deity. He did not push to knowing the cause or the order of the ideas of the Deity. For him, the existence of the Deity is what is more important. Believing on this fact is already enough. He would not busy himself on discovering what else should be known about the Deity. However, Cleanthes also said that those who would want to know what is beyond the existence of a Deity may do so.
Philo said that he pretended not to be like Cleanthes who stopped thinking what lies ahead or what is beyond the existence of the Deity. Philo also pretended not to be like those who go and explore beyond to inquiry more of the existence of the Deity. Philo said he should have not attempted to expound on his arguments. Philo stressed that naturalists, with regard to the matter about the Deity, normally explain their ideas by giving out general causes.
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