Dualism In Descartes And The Body-Mind Dualism

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The question of body-mind dualism has been debated throughout the centuries by many philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and many others. Among them, Descartes could be designated as representing a modern viewpoint about this controversial subject. Disapproving the Skeptics who doubt, or at least try to undermine all the bases for knowledge, Descartes tries to find a certain and absolute knowledge. Very known for his famous Latin quote “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), Descartes tries to establish the distinction between the soul (the mind) and the body. This dualism takes root in the fact that these two entities do contrast and differ in their inner nature. The mind being eternal and unextend and the body being mortal and…show more content…
He draws a distinction between all the things that aren’t necessarily true and those that are necessarily true. The unnecessarily true things are perceived by senses and considered to be empirical truths. According to him, “what is called sensing is strictly just seems”. The things that are necessarily true, arising from ideas, are said to be indubitable. Descartes says it is possible to “form opinions only about things that I know” and that “knowledge can’t depend on things whose existence I am still unaware”. He considers the body to be extended and argues that it appears to be the “structure of body parts, with definite shape, that occupies space and that is able to initiate movement”. The mind, also associated with the soul, designates the part engaged in sense perception and thinking. The distinction built by Plato sets apart the essences or the substances that draw together what truly exists, and the attributes that gather all the properties and the characteristics of a particular substance. Hence, each substance has one essence and many attributes. Material objects or bodies have extension as an essential or primary attribute, and when it comes to minds, it is thinking. It is relevant to acknowledge that, according to Descartes, substances do not require “any other creature to exist”: they exist only with “God’s concurrence”, whereas attributes depend on them (substances) to…show more content…
Following Descartes’s premises and reasoning, it can be attested that the concept of existence is comprised in the substances, and that the body and the mind can exist separately and independently from each other. It is true that we have different examples of bodies existing independently and without minds, such as stones or the body after death which are mentioned by Skirry. But Skirry says that we have no experience of a mind existing without a body as we do of a body existing without a mind. This puts into question the foundation of Descartes’ argument. If there is no reference to demonstrate the existence of a mind without a body, then the clear and distinct perception which Descartes relied on needs to be reviewed. The guarantee of this premise was based on the fact that God is not a deceiver. But if this clear and distinct idea was invalid, then God would be a deceiver. However, given God’s non deceiving nature, all clear and distinct ideas must be true. Therefore, if it turns out that God doesn’t exist, the grounds of Descartes’ claim can no longer be justified. Descartes’ argument turns out to be weak if we frame it differently: it depends on his conception of body and mind in relation to the power of God. The possibility of conceiving a mind without a body

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