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.
Today it is evident that we would not be here without our masterpiece of a brain. The organ that weighs approximately 3 pounds but manages to use up most of our oxygen supply essentially controls actions going on in our body, as well as computing our interaction with our environments. This means that this organ is solely responsible for how we act, whether or not we breathe, live, or feel. This poses the question whether or not this much responsibility in a single organ can be a good idea.
The Mind/Body Problem has been a topic of much discussion for many centuries, dating back to philosophers even before Aristotle. The problem addresses the question that if there is a mind that is immaterial and distinct from the material body, then how can something immaterial control something that is material? How are are the mind and body related? Common theories that arise from this problem are centered around two viewpoints: the mind and body are two distinct entities or they are a single entity. The stance of Dualism in philosophy of the mind is based on the idea that the mind and body are two fundamentally different kinds of things.
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.
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 shows through his dualism that though the mind and body are separate , they are connected and reliant on one another. This is one
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”
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.
Given that a chair's physical existence may be suspect, my idea of a chair may also be suspect in regard of some aspects such as appearance, yet I cannot suspect the fact that I am thinking of scale, quantity, measurement, space, etc. in providing for my mental image of the chair. Hence for Descartes, there are things that are certain regardless of sense experience and it seems mentally impossibly to conceive of them as
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.
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 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.
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’ 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.
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.