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An Exposition and Evaluation of Descartes' Arguments for the Claim that the Mind is not Identical to the Body - Essay Example

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(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) An Exposition and Evaluation of Descartes’ Arguments for the Claim that the Mind is not Identical to the Body In his Sixth Meditation, Descartes presents two arguments for the claim that the mind is not identical to the body…
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An Exposition and Evaluation of Descartes' Arguments for the Claim that the Mind is not Identical to the Body

Download file to see previous pages... According to Descartes: “It is true that I may have (or to anticipate, that I certainly have) a body that is very closely joined to me. But nevertheless, on the one hand, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in so far as I am simply a thinking, non-extended thing; and on the other hand I have a distinct idea of body, in so far as this is simply an extended, non-thinking thing. And accordingly, it is certain that I am really distinct from my body, and can exist without it.” (54) From the argument above, Descartes is trying to say that he has a “clear and distinct” idea of himself and at the same time, he has a “clear and distinct” idea of body. He therefore concludes that his having a clear and distinct idea of himself serves as enough proof that the mind exists, and that his having a clear and distinct idea of body directly implies that his body exists separately from the mind, and is therefore different from it. It is also interesting to note that his clear and distinct idea of himself is “simply a thinking, non-extended thing” and how he perceives the body is “simply an extended, non-thinking thing.” This therefore brings us to the idea that Descartes’ argument of separation of the mind from the body, or of the body from the mind, is simply based on the matter of extension and capacity to think. Descartes therefore, in making the distinction between mind and body, does not consider the other qualities of the mind except its capacity to think and its not being extended, and he also therefore does not take into consideration the other qualities of the body except its lack of capacity to think and its being extended. Therefore, by simply emphasizing the non-extendedness and thinking capacity of the mind, and by equally emphasizing the extendedness and thinking incapacity of the body, Descartes now sees the distinction between the body and the mind. There might, however, be some objections regarding this. First, Descartes may have failed to take into account that by emphasizing the distinction between the mind and the body, it does not follow that one can say that the mind is not identical to the body. The fact that one can be perceived distinctly from the other cannot therefore guarantee that one is not identical to the other. Of course, Descartes may be correct at this, but still there is a possibility that he may be perceiving only the different qualities of just “One Thing.” It therefore could be possible that this “One Thing” may simply have the attributes of thinking and non-extension at times, and those of non-thinking and extension at other times. Descartes then may have made a mistake by equating such distinct qualities as qualities of two distinct objects (body and mind), when in fact they can simply be distinct qualities of one object. Second, Descartes’ clear and distinct perception of the mind and the body cannot guarantee that mind and body are different from each other because it is possible that Descartes’ perception may be subjective or impaired. Descartes was only human and, human as he was, he may not have been that accurate in perceiving such a “clear and distinct” mind and a “clear and distinct” body. How sure is Descartes in the whole of the Meditations that what he is actually perceiving is the mind or the body, and how sure is he that the mind remains thinking and non- ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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