Descartes' Theory of Substance Dualism Essays

Descartes' Theory of Substance Dualism Essays

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Descartes' Theory of Substance Dualism

Throughout the history of man, philosophers have tried to come up with an
explanation of where our minds, or consciousness, came from and how we are able to
have a nonphysical characteristic of ourselves. Does our physical brain automatically
give us nonphysical characteristics like feelings, thoughts, and desires or is there
something else there, the mind, that interacts with our bodies and makes us feel, think,
and desire? Also, is the mind the only nonphysical entity in our universe or do other
entities exist such as ghosts or souls? One man came up with a theory to explain the two
different properties in our universe in which he called Dualism. Hopefully with his
theory of Substance Dualism, we can come up with some sort of answer to these
questions.
French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed two such properties
existed in life, the physical and the nonphysical. He broke his theory of Dualism into two
forms: Substance Dualism and Property Dualism. He explained that Substance Dualism
is the claim that nonphysical substances exist, and Property Dualism is the claim that
there are mental properties that are different from physical properties (Barcalow, pg. 70).
To put it another way, properties are what make up an object, and substance is what the
properties attach to in making that object. Many philosophers agree that substance is a
mysterious entity that is hard to explain. It's like a kind of flypaper to which properties
adhere, but flypaper that has no properties of its own, not even the property of being
sticky (Barcalow, pg. 71). Without substance, there are only properties of an object, not
the object as a whole.

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Descartes ...


... middle of paper ...


...to explain the relationship between our physical body and
nonphysical mind. Descartes makes sense in his theory and the objections Barcalow
came up with can be answered. Unless someone comes up with a theory that is better and
can disprove Descartes, I'm sticking with Descartes. I mean, something told my hands
what to type.
Overall, the mind and body relationship is a tricky subject. We as humans don't
fully know where the nonphysical properties of our mind came from nor do we know if
one exists. So far, Descartes came up with the best theory to explain it, but not everyone
believes it. There are also a few objections to his theory that raise questions as to if it can
page 4
be believed. I believe Descartes was a man truly ahead of his time and helped in the
process of explaining the entities of human life no matter if anyone believes him or not.

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