Analysis of Descartes’ Mind/Body Distinction Essay

Analysis of Descartes’ Mind/Body Distinction Essay

Length: 1172 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes states “I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in as far as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other hand, I possess a distinct idea of body, in as far as it is only an extended and unthinking thing”. [1] The concept that the mind is an intangible, thinking entity while the body is a tangible entity not capable of thought is known as Cartesian Dualism. The purpose of this essay is to examine how Descartes tries to prove that the mind or soul is, in its essential nature, entirely distinct from the
body and whether or not he is successful. While I agree with his theory that the mind and body are distinct, I do not believe the mind is non-extended and I do not agree with Descartes’ assertion that the mind is capable of existence beyond the body.

One of the ways in which Descartes attempts to prove that the mind is distinct from the body is through his claim that the mind occupies no physical space and is an entity with which people think, while the body is a physical entity and cannot serve as a mechanism for thought. [1]

I believe most of this portion of his position to be true. The body quite certainly has a physical presence and is not capable of controlling or thinking for itself. I begin to disagree with Descartes’ theory at the point where he states that the mind is non-extended. The mind is assuredly capable of thought, as Descartes states, and has intangible elements in the form of memories and personality characteristics; however, I believe that the mind is an extended entity because physical matter is required for these elements to exist. In my opinion, this means that the only logical conclusion is that the brain is the physical extensi...

... middle of paper ...

... ceases to function.

Descartes makes very interesting points on the differentiation of the mind and body in
Meditation on First Philosophy. His position on the body being a strictly physical entity while
the mind is not is a superb point of reasoning that can be applied on many different levels with
many different results. Overall, I believe that there are some areas of Descartes’ position that
could be modified or expanded upon given what has been learned about the brain through
modern science. Nonetheless, given the knowledge available during his lifetime, I believe that
Descartes is generally successful in proving his viewpoint to be the correct one.

Works Cited

[1] Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy. 1641 [Translated by John Veitch (1901)] Meditation 6,

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Descartes ' Natural Light By Rene Descartes Essay

- Descartes’ Natural Light Rene Descartes’ natural light is his saving grace, and not Achilles’ heel. Descartes incorporates the concept of natural light within his epistemology in order to establish the possibility of knowing things completely without doubt. In fact whatever is revealed to the meditator via the natural light is considered to be indefeasible. The warrant for the truth of these ideas does not rely on experience or the senses. Rather the truth of the idea depends on viewing the concept through clear and distinct perception....   [tags: Mind, Epistemology, Perception, René Descartes]

Strong Essays
1695 words (4.8 pages)

Analysis Of Rene Descartes 's Meditations On First Philosophy Essay

- Rene Descartes was a French Philosopher who wrote the book, Meditations on First Philosophy. There are six meditations, the last one is named, The essence of material things, and the real distinction between mind and body, in the sixth meditation. In the previous meditations he already conjectured that he had a mind because he is a thing that thinks and to think is to have a mind and to think is to also exist. Descartes believes that physical things exist because they are pure mathematics, and he can see them clearly and distinctly....   [tags: Mind, Ontology, René Descartes, Consciousness]

Strong Essays
1055 words (3 pages)

Analyzing Individuation and Identity In Descartes´ Philosophical View of the Mind-Body Dualism

- Every since Plato introduced the idea of dualism thousands of years ago meta-physicians have been faced with the mind-body problem. Even so Plato idea of dualism did not become a major issue of debate in the philosophical world until the seventeenth century when French philosopher Rene Descartes publicized his ideas concerning the mental and physical world. During this paper, I will analyze the issue of individuation and identity in Descartes’ philosophical view of the mind-body dualism. I will first start by explaining the structure of Cartesian dualism....   [tags: Rene Descartes, Plato, Cartesian dualism]

Strong Essays
1098 words (3.1 pages)

Rene Descartes : Understanding Of The Mind Body Interaction Essay

- One of René Descartes’ major contributions to psychology was his understanding of the mind-body interaction. For thousands of years leading up to the seventeenth century, scholars had been arguing that the mind and the body are unlike one another. These individuals also believed that the interaction between mind and body went in only one direction—while the mind could exercise a substantial influence on the body, the body had very little effect on the mind. In his interpretation of the distinction between mental and physical qualities, Descartes did agree with the belief that there are differences between mind and body....   [tags: Mind, Psychology, Perception, Nervous system]

Strong Essays
852 words (2.4 pages)

Descartes: Relationship Between Mind and Body Essay

- In Meditation Six entitled “Concerning the Existence of Material Things, and Real Distinction between the Mind and Body”, one important thing Descartes explores is the relationship between the mind and body. Descartes believes the mind and body are separated and they are two difference substances. He believes this to be clearly and distinctly true which is a Cartesian quality for true knowledge. I, on the other hand, disagree that the mind and body are separate and that the mind can exist without the body....   [tags: Existence of Material Things, Analysis]

Strong Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about A Summary of Descartes and His Thoughts

- Descartes claim of ‘Cogito ergo sum’ marked a sharp departure from what philosophy was in his time. He started from the basic principle of rationalism and he concluded that ‘I think, therefore I exist’. In his Meditation II, Descartes hits an epistemological ground zero. Here it is that Descartes begins his startling point, “And thus, having reflected well, and carefully examined all things, we have finally to conclude that this declaration, Ego sum, ego existo, is necessarily true every time I propound of mentally apprehend it.” In this statement he affirms his existence and later concludes that he was a res cogitans -- a thinking thing, “that is to say a mind, an understanding or reason-t...   [tags: philosophical analysis]

Strong Essays
874 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on Descartes And Hume

- There are three ways in which one is able to find truth: through reason (A is A), by utilizing the senses (paper burns) or by faith (God is all loving). As the period of the Renaissance came to a close, the popular paradigm for philosophers shifted from faith to reason and finally settling on the senses. Thinkers began to challenge authorities, including great teachers such as Aristotle and Plato, and through skepticism the modern world began. The French philosopher, René Descartes who implemented reason to find truth, as well as the British empiricist David Hume with his usage of analytic-synthetic distinction, most effectively utilized the practices of skepticism in the modern world....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical History Essays]

Strong Essays
554 words (1.6 pages)

Analysis Of Spinoza 's ' The Ethics ' Essay

- In the tradition, there is contingency. This means things could have been otherwise; things do not have to be the way they are. According to the traditional view, it is arbitrary that God makes anything at all. God is utterly self-sufficient; He did not need to make the world. Moreover, God could have made other worlds; though, the extent to which he could make these worlds is limited. For example, God could not create a world in which evil prospers because He cares about goodness, benevolence etc., but the point remains that God could have created things differently; God could have created other worlds....   [tags: Metaphysics, Ontology, René Descartes]

Strong Essays
1092 words (3.1 pages)

Descartes and Meditation Three Essay

- Descartes and Meditation Three At the beginning of Meditation three, Descartes has made substantial progress towards defeating skepticism. Using his methods of Doubt and Analysis he has systematically examined all his beliefs and set aside those which he could call into doubt until he reached three beliefs which he could not possibly doubt. First, that the evil genius seeking to deceive him could not deceive him into thinking that he did not exist when in fact he did exist. Second, that his essence is to be a thinking thing....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
1187 words (3.4 pages)

Descartes' Failure Essay

- Descartes' Failure In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes strives first and foremost to provide an infallibly justified foundation for the empirical sciences, and second to prove the existence of God. I will focus on the first and second meditations in my attempt to show that, in his skepticism of the sources of knowledge, he fails to follow the rules he has set out in the Discourse on Method. First I claim that Descartes fails to draw the distinction between pure sensation and inference, which make up what he calls sensation, and then consider the consequences of this failure to follow his method....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Essays]

Strong Essays
4855 words (13.9 pages)