Essay on Rene Descartes: Cartesian Dualism

Essay on Rene Descartes: Cartesian Dualism

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Descartian dualism is one of the most long lasting legacies of Rene Descartes’ philosophy. He argues that the mind and body operate as separate entities able to exist without one another. That is, the mind is a thinking, non-extended entity and the body is non-thinking and extended. His belief elicited a debate over the nature of the mind and body that has spanned centuries, a debate that is still vociferously argued today. In this essay, I will try and tackle Descartes claim and come to some conclusion as to whether Descartes is correct to say that the mind and body are distinct.
For one to begin the quest into Descartes’ dualism, one must first look at the argument of the real distinction. In Descartian thought, the “real distinction” is the term representing the distinction between two or more substances (Principles part I, section 5). A substance can be described as something with does not require anything else to exist beyond the help of God’s cooperation. Permitting to this theory, a mode is something with requires a substance to also exist and cannot rely solely on the occurrence of God’s help. An example of such a mode may be observed when one takes the time to consider an item such as a square. This square requires the existence of an extended substance. In this case, the object required is two-dimensional thus it can be said that a square is strictly a mode of a substance. It is impossible to conceive of such a thing existing without the help of an extended two-dimensional substance. To consider a square absent of two-dimensional properties, one is lead down the road of contradiction. This I hope further clarifies what Descartes means by a substance. One can take a boulder as an example of this. This boulder will cont...


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...tions rose by his objectors, for me, from a rather impregnable undermining of Descartes’ philosophy. As their must simply be interaction between two extended objects for any sort of reaction to take place. Therefore the movement that results from such a reaction must occur between two extended objects. This is my main and principal concern with Descartes philosophy and is the reason I, at least believe, Descartes does not make a convincing argument over the nature of mind-body separation. As from looking solely at Descartes research, he is not right to say there is a divide between the body and the mind.
Bibliography
Descartes, Rene, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, 3 vols 1984
Rozemond, Marleen, Descartes’s Dualism, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998


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