Comparing Hobbes And Descartes Meditation

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What does it mean to be human? This question about humanity is not merely an aimless existential inquiry with no practical purpose, rather, it is an important and practical anthropological query that has implications on the functions of society and humans. Things are treated or acted upon based on their perceived nature to humans; for instance, since it is known that humans are sentient beings, humans treat other humans with a certain respect and compassion. However, if humans’ view of their own natures changed, their actions toward each other would change accordingly. Thus, it is an important endeavor to look at the anthropologies that certain thinkers implicitly or explicitly present since it allows for an analysis of the current political …show more content…

Descartes’ Meditations, in contrast, views humans as an accidental unification of two different substances, the mind and the soul. While humans are wholly machines for Hobbes, Descartes believes that what makes humans, humans, are their minds and that physical bodies are merely machines and extensions of the mind. Both Hobbes and Descartes radically redefine the anthropologies put out by past thinkers, however, with different ends. These different ends manifest themselves in both similarities and drastic differences; the similarities manifest themselves in their respective anthropologies’ redefining characteristics and skepticism of faculties, while the differences manifest themselves in unique interpretations of reason, truth, and …show more content…

It is precisely in Meditation I that Descartes begins to outline his anthropology by starting from the beginning, ridding himself of all his preconceived notions, and distancing himself from the three faculties (reason, imagination, and sensation) through which we apprehend the world in order to ultimately achieve true and certain knowledge. Through the faculty of reason, Descartes with his universal doubt deduces that we cannot be certain of any of the three faculties that are necessary for how humans perceive and interact with the world. As a result, Descartes come to the only definitive conclusion that he can make, that in order to doubt or think, there must be someone doing the doubting or thinking and therefore, he, Descartes must exist. A corollary of this revelation is that for Descartes, the only thing distinguishes humans are their minds; in other words, the thing that makes humans human are their minds, an absolutely immaterial object. For Descartes, humans are a combination of substances, an accidental unification between the vital thinking mind, the true essence of a person, and the body, a mere machine-like extension of the mind. However, it is important to note that you can only know you exist if you think about your existence, reducing humans to merely their thoughts, a thinking thing whose immaterial mind is the entirety of one’s

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