Descartes Philosophy Of The Mind

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In the second meditation Descartes wishes to distinguish the mind from the body. However, Descartes recognizes that in order for this to happen he must cast away everything, which he doubts, and find one thing that is absolutely certain. The one thing that Descartes finds to be certain is that he is a thinking thing and he does exist (76,2). He arrives at this conclusion after analyzing a couple different issues. First, Descartes questions the issue that there could be some evil spirit whose only motivation is to deceive him. Descartes therefore concludes that if it is worthwhile for this evil spirit to attempt to deceive him, he must therefore exist. Furthermore, as long Descartes thinks that he is something the evil spirit will be unable to cease his existence (75,2). Like wise, later on in the second meditation Descartes believes himself to be a thinking thing because he is able to understand and question matters (77,1).

Descartes believes himself to be a non-extended thing. Descartes does realize that he possesses a physical body. However, Descartes does not believe that his physical person makes up whom he is. Instead, Descartes believes that his mind and thoughts make up whom he is. This is best illustrated when Descartes is speaking of the piece of wax; while observing the piece of wax Descartes notices that when the wax is applied to various situational environments, the characteristics of the wax change. However, one thing stayed constant in that no matter what changes the wax underwent it remained to be wax (77,2). So no matter what would happen to his physical body Descartes would always remain to be Descartes. This is why Descartes finds him self to be a non-extended thinking thing.

In the sixth meditation Descartes points out that he is closely...