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Descartes Philosophy Of The Mind Essay

946 words - 4 pages

In the second meditation Descartes wishes to distinguish the mind from the body. However, Descartes recognizes that in order for this to happen he must cast away everything, which he doubts, and find one thing that is absolutely certain. The one thing that Descartes finds to be certain is that he is a thinking thing and he does exist (76,2). He arrives at this conclusion after analyzing a couple different issues. First, Descartes questions the issue that there could be some evil spirit whose only motivation is to deceive him. Descartes therefore concludes that if it is worthwhile for this evil spirit to attempt to deceive him, he must therefore exist. Furthermore, as long Descartes thinks that he is something the evil spirit will be unable to cease his existence (75,2). Like wise, later on in the second meditation Descartes believes himself to be a thinking thing because he is able to understand and question matters (77,1). Descartes believes himself to be a non-extended thing. Descartes does realize that he possesses a physical body. However, Descartes does not believe that his physical person makes up whom he is. Instead, Descartes believes that his mind and thoughts make up whom he is. This is best illustrated when Descartes is speaking of the piece of wax; while observing the piece of wax Descartes notices that when the wax is applied to various situational environments, the characteristics of the wax change. However, one thing stayed constant in that no matter what changes the wax underwent it remained to be wax (77,2). So no matter what would happen to his physical body Descartes would always remain to be Descartes. This is why Descartes finds him self to be a non-extended thinking thing.In the sixth meditation Descartes points out that he is closely joined with his body. Descartes says this because he is aware that he and his body work together. One example of how the body and the mind are intermingled is presented to us when Descartes is speaking of the many different sensations he has experienced (81,1-2). Descartes views sensations as a form of thought, but he recognizes that the body produces (or triggers) these sensations. Descartes uses the example of a person with dropsy. The sensation of feeling as if you have a dry throat produces the thought that you must need a drink of water, but doing so will only aggravate the illness. However, the same thought is produced even when you have a dry throat and the disease is not present (86,1). The fact that the body triggers certain thoughts in certain situations illustrates Descartes view that the body and the mind are separate yet intermingled. For if the body were a thinking...

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