This paper will critically examine the Cartesian dualist position and the notion that it can offer a plausible account of the mind and body. Proposed criticisms deal with both the logical and empirical conceivability of dualist assertions, their incompatibility with physical truths, and the reducibility of the position to absurdity. Cartesian Dualism, or substance dualism, is a metaphysical position which maintains that the mind and body consist in two separate and ontologically distinct substances. On this view, the mind is understood to be an essentially thinking substance with no spatial extension; whereas the body is a physical, non-thinking substance extended in space. Though they share no common properties, substance dualists maintain …show more content…
Hume (1738) aptly challenged Descartes in claiming that it is impossible to conceive of a disembodied mind. He argues that for an idea to be legitimate it must be traceable back to sense impressions that have been acquired through experience (The Copy Principle). However, it is not possible to gain an impression of the mind, so it is not possible to have a legitimate idea of the self. We cannot gain an impression from our outer senses, since the mind is non-physical; or through introspection, since I can only introspect a given impression, not the thing that possesses it. While I am introspectively aware of e.g. feelings of anger, I am never aware of the self (the mind, the thinking thing) that contains the anger. When I try to conceive of the self, I do not think of the mind but bodily behaviour, i.e. physical displays of anger. If we cannot gain an impression of the mind, then we cannot possess an idea of the self. The assertion that Descartes has a clear and distinct perception that he is “... a thinking thing” is therefore made redundant and his conceivability argument is
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Of all the recurring questions of Man, one of the most persistent is the question of our origins. Specifically the question of what, if anything, caused us to exist. It has been argued by generations of minds, all seeking the definitive explanation of our existence. One such mind was that of Rene Descartes, a brilliant philosopher of his time, throughout and beyond ours. His ideas on geometry and metaphysics, among others, remain influential upon the thinkers of today.
The inquisition and philosophies between the mind and body have been being discussed for hundreds of years. Whether or not we our minds have a practical influence on our body. Or human minds are of its own entity and contain a soul that constitutes how we act and function. Dualism constitutes that the mind and body are not identical and therefore the effect of one does not influence the other. Many philosophers believed in the concept of dualism.
One of Descartes’ many critiques was that of fellow philosopher John Locke. Using Locke I will argue that many of Descartes claims in his meditations on innate knowledge and reality show problematic. I do not totally agree with his proposition that only the mind can produce certain knowledge and that our senses are always under the attack of the devil that deceives us. I do however agree with Locke’s argument which opposes Descartes concerning doubt in the first meditation. During Descartes first meditation the focus was placed on doubt and how knowledge is innate in each of us.
Throughout history there has been an abundance of ancient philosophers, including Plato, who explored metaphysics and its relationship to the real world before Descartes’ began questioning the idea. Nevertheless, his views on dualism are very different from Plato’s. As we know, Plato thinks and feels as if the body is just a vessel for the soul, but Descarte on the other hand strongly believes and shows proof that both your soul and body are connected and intertwining. Stating one is not superior to the other, both work hand and hand, affecting each other. Descartes states that “I reflect therefore I am.”
Descartes, in his Meditations on First Philosophy, used a method of doubt; he doubted everything in order to find something conclusive, which he thought, would be certain knowledge. He found that he could doubt everything, expect that he was thinking, as doubting is a type of thinking. Since thinking requires a thinker, he knew he must exist. According to Descartes if you are able to doubt your existence, then it must mean that you exist, hence his famous statement cogito ergo sum which is translated into ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Descartes said he was able to doubt the existence of his body and all physical things, but he could not doubt that his mind exists.
Descartes notes that he does not know that the wax is still wax through either senses or imagination, but rather “it is [his] mind alone which perceives it” (Descartes, 77). This metaphor upends the Aristotelian conception of the senses as belonging to the body and intellect belonging to the soul. Instead, Descartes claims that sensation, imagination, and logic all rest in the mind, giving way to an understanding of the body, as Leder puts it, as an “automaton”
Descartes search for knowledge starts with a self claim of doubt. Like we studied earlier, he doubts senses, his body, everything he has experienced in the outside world. Descartes didn’t want to simply become a cynic and just doubt something because it was the easy way out. He believes that doubt is able to move the analyst toward the elimination of mistake and will be given to knowledge. In the sixth Meditation, he continues on to differ between the mind and body.
In the Scheper-Hughes and Lock reading (1987), one thing has stood out for me and that is Cartesian dualism. Where the body is viewed according to its physical and symbolic state. Which comes into effect when I consider the application of race, class, gender, politics and culture in everyday life and how that affects me personally. I would like to discuss how to a certain, extent that the reading has changed the views of my own body and that of others around me. However, in terms of the ways we deal with bodies as to how they are treated, whether any account is taken for them and if pain and suffering is taken for bodies, especially those that are marginalized.
To say you doubt your own existence, only things that exist can make doubts. If one is able to think, then self must be present in order for that to happen. Descartes goes through a lot of analysis to prove this to be true, he says “Is it then the case that I too do not exist? ... He will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I shall think that I am something. Thus, after everything has been most carefully weighed, it must finally be established that this pronouncement "I am, I exist" [ego sum, ego existo] is necessarily true every time I utter it or conceive it in my mind."
Descartes’ theory about the mind/body problem gave us Mind-Body Dualism and is now placed in the subcategory of Substance Dualism. He believed that the mind and body were two distinct entities or substances, where the mind is an immaterial entity and the body is a material entity. His argument for why the mind and body must be two different things is clearly stated in his Sixth Meditation: “[T]he fact that I can clearly and distinctly understand one thing apart from another is enough to make me certain that the two things are distinct, since they are capable of being separated, at least by God. … Thus, simply by
One of the deepest and most lasting legacies of Descartes Philosophy is his thesis that mind and body are really distinct, a thesis now called "mind-body dualism." Descartes believe that your mind is one thing and your body is another. The body is external and minds are internal, they do not need the other to function, they are able to function independently. While our mind is active our bodies react to what it is being told.
In Paragraph 11 of Rene Descartes’s Meditation I, he summarizes and reiterates the reasons for his doubt and the method he employs to build the foundation of knowledge. He also examines the rationale of his doubt and the extent to which he will sustain this doubtful attitude. First he explains the reasons of his doubt. He claims that opinions have constantly reverberated back to his mind against his will. Since these opinions have shaped him through time and traditions, he is not habituated to resist the desire to assent to these opinions.
Descartes derives this idea, from his research into doubting his previous theories, and concludes that the only aspect he cannot doubt is the fact that he has a mind (Berhouma, 2013). As such, he assess that we must have a separate non-being ‘mind’ which interacts with our body, to form our being. This theory is known as dualism, and still poses quite a controversy today. This definite difference between the immaterial and matter aspect of mind and body is ‘radical dualism’. As such we must question if this interaction leaves space for deception by either party.
Descartes’ explores this concept in his work, Mediations on First Philosophy, in which he develops the famous theory that started the conversation of the mind and body; Cartesian Dualism (also known as mind-body dualism). In summary, Cartesian Dualism argues that the physical body and immaterial soul are two distinct things that happen to interact with one another. The reason that Cartesian Dualism is important is that it has set a foundation for which philosophers can work from in regards to expanding on the mind-body problem. Thus, there are numerous approaches that have branched off of Descartes’ theory. Two such approaches are Behaviorism and Functionalism.