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Descartes' Arguments For Immateriality Of Mind/Soul Based On The Notion Of Dualism: Body Is Extended Object And Mind/Soul Is Non Extended.

1858 words - 7 pages

Descartes' Arguments for the immateriality of the mind/soulDescartes is one of the rationalists, who believed that the only way to acquire knowledge is through reason; as opposed to empiricists, who thought it is possible only through sense experience. This shaped Descartes' view of human nature as dualism. He believed that human mind/soul and body are totally different entities. He defined mind as non-extended entity with notions of thought, sensation and imagination, where body as extended subject, occupying the space. So he based his argument of the immateriality of mind/soul on dualism. Firstly, he made it clear that the mind and the soul is the same thing and it is the self. From this he drew that the self actually exists by asserting that the ability to reason proves his existence. Then he moves to claim that the mind and body are distinct entities and that mind can exist without body. This would imply the possibility for an after-life, thus the immateriality of mind/soul.So Descartes starts his argument to prove immateriality of soul by asserting that self exists as mind/soul. After doubting everything in his Second Meditation, that is rejecting the possibility of the existence of extension, movement, senses and bodies, even his own; thus concluding that the only thing is certain that there is no certainty. But if he does not exist, what triggers these thoughts? So if the physical world does not exist, he does not exist as well? But by having all these doubts Descartes must exist. He formed the Cogito argument, involving the notion I am, I exist (Descartes, p.17). He defined this 'I' as the body, mind or soul with the attributes of nourishment, movement, sensation and thinking. He could doubt everything except that he can think and that he exists as long as he is thinking, therefore he concluded that 'I am a thing that thinks'.After proving that he exists, because he can reason about the world, tries to show that the body and mind/soul are distinct entities, concerning dualistic notion of self. He identified this as Real Distinction. This involved a substance which is not dependent on any other thing in order to exist; only god can interfere with it; while the mode is an attribute of that substance, which depends on not only God but also on the substance to exist. The example is given of a sphere; its shape is a mode of a sphere and it must be a three dimensional object in order to exist. Otherwise the conflict occurs as unextended sphere could not be perceived. On the other hand, the substance can be realized to exist independent from other objects. For example, a piece of wax exists by itself. The modes of shape and size belong to it. Therefore, if the wax piece was melted, the shape and size disappear. But the piece of wax is not an attribute of something else and does not depend on it, so the wax itself exists even without its properties. So Descartes demonstrates here, considering mind and body, that each thing can exist by itself and...

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