Descartes Sixth Meditation Analysis

1919 Words8 Pages
In the sixth meditation, Descartes postulates that there exists a fundamental difference in the natures of both mind and body which necessitates that they be considered as separate and distinct entities, rather than one stemming from the other or vice versa. This essay will endeavour to provide a critical objection to Descartes’ conception of the nature of mind and body and will then further commit to elucidating a suitably Cartesian-esque response to the same objection. (Descartes,1641)
In the sixth meditation Descartes approaches this point of dualism between mind and matter, which would become a famous axiom in his body of philosophical work, in numerous ways. To wit Descartes postulates that he has clear and distinct perceptions of both
…show more content…
My perception of my body and matter in general is that it is in its essence divisible (Descartes,1641)
This essay here will insert a reference to ‘Leibnitz’s Law’ or otherwise the relatively intuitive principle that for two things to be the same thing, they must share all the qualities of each other. Descartes does not specifically do so, but it is heavily inferred from his argument. Descartes now concludes that since minds are indivisible and bodies are, that according to the Leibnitz’s law they cannot be the same thing and hence:
Conclusion: The mind is substantively different from the body and indeed matter in general.
Because in this conception the mind is substantively distinct from the body it becomes plausible for us to doubt the intuitive connection between mind and body. Indeed there are many aspects of the external world that do not appear to have minds and yet appear none the less real in spite of this for example mountains, sticks or lamps, given this we can begin to rationalize that perhaps minds can exist without bodies, and we only lack the capacity to perceive them.

This essay will now begin the task of laying out the objection to Descartes’
…show more content…
How does Descartes account for the apparent relation between the state of one’s brain and the behaviour of the body?
2. In a broader sense how can dualism account for the interaction between the thoughts of immaterial minds and the actions of physical bodies at all?
3. How can Descartes respond to the possibility that his use of divisibility in order to establish a distinction between mind and body is not obviously a result of the relative ability of a mind to be divisible or not.
With regards to the first objection, a proper Cartesian response may occur as follows: The relationship between brain function and bodily behaviour can be accounted for in a number of ways without abandoning a dualistic outlook.
1. It is possible that the brain is the organ used by the mind to communicate with the body, a “tool of communication” like a decoder that could receive thoughts from the immaterial mind and then “decode” into the appropriate neurological chemicals and neuron firings that would produce the required action in the body. Under this conception of mind and body, damage to the brain does not harm the mind, but instead interferes with the minds ability to influence the actions of the body, giving rise to behaviour that causes us to suspect a fault in the mind, when no such fault
Open Document