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Descartes Sixth Meditation Essay

1137 words - 5 pages

In the Sixth Meditation, Descartes makes a point that there is a distinction between mind and body. It is in Meditation Two when Descartes believes he has shown the mind to be better known than the body. In Meditation Six, however, he goes on to claim that, as he knows his mind and knows clearly and distinctly that its essence consists purely of thought. Also, that bodies' essences consist purely of extension, and that he can conceive of his mind and body as existing separately. By the power of God, anything that can be clearly and distinctly conceived of as existing separately from something else can be created as existing separately. However, Descartes claims that the mind and body have been created separated without good reason. This point is not shown clearly, and further, although I can conceive of my own mind existing independently of my body, it does not necessarily exist as so.
On page 56, when Descartes talks about how sailors are related to ships and why the mind body union is different, he is vague on the metaphorical analogy. To try to get his point across, dualism is used. Descartes is talking about something called interactionist substance dualism. He is stating that the mind and body causally interact with one another. This can be summed up to say that as easily as the mind can cause changes in the body, the body can also cause changes in the mind. Therefore the mind and body must be intimately united. An example of this is having the intuition to raise your hand. Your mind thinks about raising your hand and your body automatically does so. Contrary to this, if you step on a pin, your body tells your brain it has stepped on something sharp, thus causing pain, and your brain tells you that you have pain and to get off. In order to follow this, you must have a strong belief in the existence of God. For only God has the means necessary to make me certain that the two things exist separately of each other. This is because God is a perfect entity, and is capable of countless things whose true causes are beyond my knowledge.
To try to explain Dualism through God, we must talk about corporeal bodies and our knowledge of them. Regarding the nature of corporeal bodies and what is known about them and given Descartes premises, the conclusions he draws in Meditation Six are generally the correct ones. He again invokes the causal to argue that the ideas of bodies we have within our minds must be caused by something with at least as much formal reality as the ideas have objective reality. By saying this he means that a formal reality is expressed as an infinite substance, finite substance, or finite mode. And by objective, we are talking about ideas or representations that we have of these finite substances, infinite substances, and finite modes. One could theoretically be producing these ideas, but Descartes dismisses this possibility for two reasons; first, that the idea of corporeality does not presuppose thought and second, that our will...

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