The Discourse Of The Method Essay

The Discourse Of The Method Essay

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Rene Descartes wrote an intriguing text, titled, The Discourse of the Method. Descartes main focus was idea of Cartesian Dualism. This philosophy is based on the notion that there are two kinds of opposing foundations, the mind, res cogitio and the physical body, res extensa. The mind is defined as a mental phenomena and non-physical entity that contains mental properties such as experience and memories. The body is outlined as having physical properties such as weight and size, and operates like a machine. The body and mind cannot be considered to be made up of the same substance because of their differences. The distinction of the mind and body is founded on their diverse natures and is the root of the mind-body problem, leaving the question about how these two substances interact. That is, he sees mind and body as two very distinct things. His physics explains the workings of bodily substances, that is, substances whose essence is extension. Mind, on the other hand is not extended. It is a substance whose essence is thought. Keeping this theory in mind, the same philosophy can be related to humans and animals. The mind and body dualism can be synonymous with the difference between the human and animal properties.
Using Cartesian dualism, the topics of humans and animals can be debated. According to Descartes, animals have the properties of physical body but not the presence of a mind. While humans have animal bodies, but are distinct from animals in that they have a mind. Humans and animals cannot be placed in the same category because of this difference creating an issue with reference to Cartesian dualism. In order to provide an argument for the theory of human and animal difference, Descartes must provide some logic from w...


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...gift from God (22). “There is none that leads weak minds further from the straight path of virtue rather than imaging that the souls of animals or machines resemble the same characteristics as humans” (22). Otherwise, humanity would be lead to believe that life is not worth more than that of a fly. But when we began to understand the actions that separate us, Cartesian dualism proves that our soul is of a nature, entirely independent of the body and consequently, is not bound to death (22). Although an animal or machine may be capable of performing any one activity as well as (or even better than) we can, he argued, each human being is capable of a greater variety of different activities than could be performed by anything lacking a soul. Descartes uses these arguments to assert that we are distinct from animals and therefore have the abilities of the mind and body.

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