How-does-Descartes-establish-dualism

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					How does Descartes establish dualism? Cartesian Dualism is a form of substance dualism, stemming from the belief that humans consist of two distinct substances, mind and body, which are intermingled during life, but are separable “at least by the omnipotence of God”. Descartes establishes this in his meditations, first by recognizing that his mind certainly exists, although his body is dubitable, and then advancing a series of arguments to prove dualism in his final meditation. The first time when Descartes notices that mind and body are distinct is in the second part of his meditations. Following the hyperbolic doubt achieved in the first meditation, Descartes discovers the certainty of his own existence. Because even in doubting his mind Descartes is thinking, it becomes clear to him that he must exist in order to do that thinking. He could not be deceived of this, as in order to be deceived he must necessarily exist anyway. This enables him to assert that “the proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true. However, this certain existence provides no necessity for the existence of a body. Descartes discovers his existence in the cogito through the fact that he is thinking, and so must exist in order to think. Thought is therefore his essence, and from this he can only deduce that he is “a thing which thinks”. Body, as a non-thinking thing, is not essential to his essence, and can indeed be doubted as part of the external world, so that all that is certain at this point of Descartes’ mediations is his mind, which is his essence. Mind and body are therefore clearly different as one is dubitable, where the other is indubitable. This is supported in a mind experiment conducted by Descartes, known as the wax experiment. He considers a piece of wax, and all of its sensible properties, including its hardness, coldness and the sound made when it is tapped. He then considers that this piece of wax is placed net to a flame, and melts so that it becomes liquid, warm and no longer makes any sound when tapped. All of the sensible qualities have changed, and yet Descartes still knows that the same wax remains. This represents that the understanding plays an important role in perception, as Descartes, simply by examining the sensible qualities of the wax would not have been able to deduce that it was the same substance, as these have all changed. It is his understanding of the wax that enables him to know that whether solid or liquid, it is the same substance. This is important to Descartes’ establishment of dualism, because it shows that the mind plays an active and important role in perception, contributing a certain understanding of objects to uncertain and changeable sensible perceptions. In order for this to occur mind must interact in some way with bodies, so as to contribute its understanding to the raw sense material gained through the senses. Having laid down the foundations for dualism here, Descartes proceeds to put forward a series of arguments establishing it in his final mediation. The first is the argument from clear and distinct perception. Descartes argues that his mind and his body are two distinct, indeed mutually exclusive, substances. Mind is a thinking, non-extended substance, whereas body is a non-thinking, extended substance. He can therefore clearly and distinctly perceive a difference between the two, as two distinct substances with mutually exclusive properties, and he can therefore conceive of them separately. He further states that “all things I conceive of clearly and distinctly can be produced by God precisely as I conceive them”. This means that, because Descartes can clearly and distinctly conceive of mind and body existing separately, as distinct substances, they can be so “at least by the omnipotence of God. A second argument for dualism advanced by Descartes is the argument from divisibility. Here Descartes states that the body, as an extended substance, is divisible. It can be mentally divided into different parts by a simple action of the mind, for example a foot can be removed. The mind on the other hand, as a nonextended substance, has no composite parts, and is entirely indivisible, highlighting once more that the mind and body are two separate and distinct substances, and convincing Descartes of dualism “were I not already convinced of it on other grounds”. Finally, having established dualism with these three arguments, Descartes goes on to describe how the mind is intermingled with the body, and therefore how it is able to interact as was shown in the wax experiment. He states that the mind is lodged in the body to an extent like a pilot in a ship. There is, however, one major difference, in that a pilot cannot feel any damage to his ship, but has to experience it though the senses. He is not aware of anything unless he witnesses it externally. The mind on the other hand feels directly and damage done to the body, or when the body is hungry or thirsty and other internal

experiences. This suggests an intermingling of mind and body during this life, which enables the mind to feel what the body feels, whilst controlling the body to an extent like a pilot in a ship. Descartes, therefore, establishes that mind and body are distinct and separable substances which are intermingled in this life trough a series of rational arguments present in his meditations.


				
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