Discuss the mind-body problem, its origin in Descartes' philosophy, Descartes' solution and other relevant reactions, including you own?

Essay by peachmouseUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2004

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Descartes brought the mind-body dualism forward to prominence. It was his attempt to give credit to the immaterial, to acknowledge and validate God and the soul, to understand the mind separate from the body. What is consciousness? Is it free or unchained? What are the limits of my mind and body? How are they related? These are issues Descartes was trying to resolve and answer.

These 'truths' were first sounded in Meditations on First Philosophy 1641.

Further works, Principles and then Passions, supplemented Meditations with a more ordered approach and a clearer study of feelings.

The mind holds no spatial qualities, being a concern of the physical, yet connected with the body. Where did the immaterial and material meet though? Interactionism and Cartesian Substance Dualism in Meditations 4 explain the pineal gland as a "weather vane" sort that allows the mind to affect the body. However, is this really the answer?

Some interesting alternative theories were offered by Malebranche and Spinoza.

Malebranche's theory is also known as Occasionalism. He believes that mind and body are totally different. They don't even know each other! Mental events have nothing to do with physical events. God makes them occur together at the same time.

Spinoza came up with the dual-aspect theory. He claims that mind and body are both attributes of one and the same thing. According to Spinoza, there is no influence between the mental and the physical world but a parallelism. For every thought there is a parallel physical event, and the other way around.

Descartes left a deep impression on philosophy. He is almost a father to new schools. This was his intention, wasn't it? Yet his explanations were theoretical at best. He argued extensively and numerous people felt intimidated to his point of view. It is empirical? Give an...