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Essence Of Mind And Body For Descartes

1096 words - 4 pages

The mind/body problem has been a major topic debated by many esteemed philosophers over the past centuries. Many philosophers have attempted to uncover the truth between the disparity between the mind and the body; however their endeavors were futile. The idea of mind is difficult topic to apprehend because of its abstract nature. A philosopher by the name of Rene Descartes is one of the few thinkers to dissect and assess the mind/body problem with his argument for dualism, which is the possibility that the mind was distinct from the body. In Descartes' Mediations on First Philosophy, he is able to construct his arguments for the real distinction of mind from body, by understanding how the physical world operates based on the notions he sets. His claim will eventually be refuted because of his lack of understanding of how a non-extended mind affects an extended bodyDescartes' main purpose in writing the mediations was to ascertain "certainty." In order for him to do so, he used systematic doubt to find something that was truly certain. Descartes had a number of reasons or sources for doubt. First, he reasoned that our sense are dubious, thus we cannot rely on them to make judgments on the physical world. This meant that the physical world he knew was also dubious because he experienced the world through sensory applications. Second, he states it is very possible that we do not know the difference between what is real and what is not, and we could be living in a dream. Another source for doubt for Descartes is an internal defect meaning that we do not know if there is something wrong with us. He might just be insane. His last doubt is the possibility of an external defect, which is a mind-independent reality that can deceive us.In the second mediation, Descartes eventually discovers that he has a clear and distinct perception (C+DP) that he is a thinking thing, therefore he must exist. This is true because the act of thinking or having any cognition presupposes a thinker. This was his famous cogito argument. Descartes also believed that the "I" can be seen as our consciousness or mind. He claimed that the mind is non-extended, while the body is extended. Moreover, in the cogito he not only proves his existence but also proves that the essence of mind is real. He then provides an argument that states that since he is possibly non-extended, and no human thing is not non-extended, extension therefore is not essential to his existence. This meant that the mind can be independent from the body. This is also seen in Descartes' statement in his Meditations of First Philosophy; "For since I now know that even bodies are not, properly speaking, perceived by the senses or by the faculty of imagination, but by the intellect alone, and that they are not perceived through their being touched or seen, but only through their being understood" (Ariew 34).How can a non-extended and an extended substance casually interact? To answer this question, Descartes claimed...

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