Title: Mind and Body: An interpretation on the works of Rene Descartes and Benedictus de Spinoza -Talks about "Dualism" and "Double Aspect Theory"

Essay by elmsCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

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The mind and body has been a major topic debated by philosophers over the past centuries. Philosophers have fervently tried to uncover the truth behind the distinction between the mind and the body. But even with the extensive amount of arguing and thinking put into this problem, it is still seemingly debatable. We as humans have a difficult time comprehending such an abstract idea as the mind, therefore making it even more difficult to put this view in perspective. Two philosophers who argue over this topic are Rene Descartes and Benedictus de Spinoza. Descartes was one of the few early thinkers to dissect and assess the mind/body problem with his argument for dualism. In contrast to Descartes was Benedictus de Spinoza who provides a counter-example to Descartes' "dualism," namely what is known as the "double aspect theory." By analyzing the views of both philosophers we can see which argument seems more plausible.

Descartes first proposes his argument for "dualism" in his work Meditations, published in 1641. Spinoza with an opposing view replies with his "double aspect theory," which questions "dualism."

Descartes starts out his argument for dualism with his method of doubt where he must "raze everything in [his] life, down to the very bottom, so as to being again from the first foundations (232)." Basically, he must question everything in existence including himself and everything around him to find out whether or not there is substantial evidence to claim that anything really exists. From this he tries to figure out what is "certain and indubitable (235)," or what is essential for his existence. This is where "dualism" comes into play. There are basically two categories in which Descartes separates the "certain" from the uncertain and the "indubitable" from the dubitable. The first are material...