Essence of Mind and Body for Descartes

Essay by ilnet2000A+, December 2006

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The mind/body problem has been a major topic debated by many esteemed philosophers over the past centuries. Many philosophers have attempted to uncover the truth between the disparity between the mind and the body; however their endeavors were futile. The idea of mind is difficult topic to apprehend because of its abstract nature. A philosopher by the name of Rene Descartes is one of the few thinkers to dissect and assess the mind/body problem with his argument for dualism, which is the possibility that the mind was distinct from the body. In Descartes' Mediations on First Philosophy, he is able to construct his arguments for the real distinction of mind from body, by understanding how the physical world operates based on the notions he sets. His claim will eventually be refuted because of his lack of understanding of how a non-extended mind affects an extended body

Descartes' main purpose in writing the mediations was to ascertain "certainty."

In order for him to do so, he used systematic doubt to find something that was truly certain. Descartes had a number of reasons or sources for doubt. First, he reasoned that our sense are dubious, thus we cannot rely on them to make judgments on the physical world. This meant that the physical world he knew was also dubious because he experienced the world through sensory applications. Second, he states it is very possible that we do not know the difference between what is real and what is not, and we could be living in a dream. Another source for doubt for Descartes is an internal defect meaning that we do not know if there is something wrong with us. He might just be insane. His last doubt is the possibility of an external defect, which is a mind-independent reality that can...