Rene Descartes' Argument from Divisibility is the argument in which he claims that the mind and the body are two completely different things and thus cannot be identical. His argument is that the body is divisible because it can be physically altered like being cut in half. His belief is that the mind is indivisible because it is not a physical thing. Descartes believed that if two things do not have identical properties then they couldn't be the same. What Descartes was suggesting was that human beings' bodies are separate from their thoughts and that when the body dies the mind still lives, which had undertones of suggesting that there is an afterlife. Descartes called his concept Dualism.
The premise that the body is divisible is true because the body is a physical thing. The body has weight, mass, and interacting parts just like a machine such as a watch or an automobile. The premise that the mind is indivisible is not true because it is an assumption that the mind and body are two different things. "It is common knowledge that the brain is the central point of the body where all functions is controlled, mainly being sense perception and thought." (Lawhead, pg 283). The brain is as much a piece of physical matter the same way a rock is. Although much more complex than a rock, a brain and a rock have similar properties because they can be affected by the physical world and are bound by the laws of physics. All thoughts and functions come from the mind, in the sense that the word mind means our consciousness or being. It can be easy to assume that the mind and body are two separate things.
Mind and body are one in the same because if the mind were not affected by the physical world, then it would not have to follow the rules of the physical world. If the mind were truly a separate thing from the body, in theory people should be able to have outer body experiences as they please. It cannot be done because the mind is confined to the body and therefore is part of the body. Outer body experiences people have claimed to have are nothing but dreams. When a person suffers trauma and claims to have had an outer body experience what they describe as experiencing is the same description of a dream. Everyone who truly dies never come back. Dead men tell no tales.
The mind is a part of the body just like the heart but more dynamic and complex in its nature...
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... the mind and body are different. If his idea was true then when a person suffers trauma to the head like in a car accident then that should not affect their mind and the way they think but there are many cases of people being permanently changed after head trauma. Another good example is the many prescription drugs that are out on the market such as Prozac. It is a pill which is a physical thing, like the body but it is proven to have an effect on the mind. According to Descartes the link between mind and body occurred in the pineal gland in the brain through a process called interactionism but that theory does not make sense because the pineal gland is just another part of the physical body.
In the end his argument cannot be true because there is no proven link between the mind and body. There is just the physical body and nothing more; nothing less. Dualism is an idea mainly based on assumption and faith. Although it would be nice to know what happens to people after they die, that is something most people would like to wait to find out.
Lawhead, William F. (2013). The Philosophical Journey, An Interactive Approach, 6th Ed. McGraw-Hill Education. New York .
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