Why was Descartes dualist?
Why was Descartes a dualist about mind and body? Was he right to be? Can the mind (or the soul) exist without the body? If it can, how is that possible? Is there something extra beyond the merely physical world and if yes, what could that be? Rene Descartes thought so and he was a dualist. Why was he a dualist and was he right in being one? In this essay, I will explain reasons why he was a dualist, what that means and where that view leads us. Descartes was the one who argued that we should doubt everything that we could. He came to the conclusion that we can doubt everything but not that we exist: there must be at least the one who doubts - the thinking thing. In other words: we can doubt that our body exists but not that our mind exists. Is it that way? Can we doubt that our body does not exist but our mind does? If we doubted the existence of our body, where then, would our mind exist? ? It could be that there is ‘the malicious demon’ which is cheating us (our mind) to think that we have a body or feelings and that we know (learn) things, but all what we really are, the brains (the mind) lies in a glass bowl in the laboratory. If that is true (if the demon exists) there must be at least one who is cheating. Descartes
One can argue that there could still be a place for non-physical things: we do not know everything about the brain. According to this view one cannot say that the mind is a different part of the body; that it can exist without another. You are the thinking thing: "a thing that doubts, perceives, affirms, denies, wills, does not will, that imagine also, and which feels"tm (Descartes in Kirk 2003: 31). Is the being of the mind different than the being of the body If we accept that it does not mean that the mind can exist without the body. It could be possible that you are only dreaming about your body but one thing must be true: someone who is dreaming must exist - you cannot doubt your own existence and the mind is what you really are. Where does the thinking happen One can argue that it happens in the brain: it is merely a physical action and there is no space for non-physical things. Descartes thought that human beings "are a compound of two very different kinds of thing;"tm the body is solid and it "extended in space"tm and the mind (or soul) is what thinks and can exist without body (References in Kirk 2003: 30). One can say that if the mind could exist without the body; there must be some reason for that. Perhaps, then, if there is mental-physical causation on the lines Descartes claimed, we have to accept it as a basic fact about the world"tm (Kirk 2003: 35). One can argue that the workings of the brain "consist of a vast number of different types of nerve cells or neurones --- up to one hundred billion of them; with an even vaster number of interconnections --- up to ten thousand for a single neurone"tm (Kirk 2003: 36). There can be "the malicious demon"tm who controls his senses and can also give different kinds of experiences, like driving a car, even if such things did not exist: there is not physical world at all. If the one who makes us think is God, why it is so and who is this God and why is He doing that What is the point We can ignore this view for the time being and try to think of another solution to this dualistic problem. When I like to have one cup of tea, it is God who makes possible my going to the kitchen and boiling the water so that I can have my cup of tea. There is still possibility for that the non-physical properties do not "themselves cause anything physical, they may be caused by physical items"tm (Kirk 2003: 42).
Some topics in this essay:
Morning Star, Rene Descartes, God God, Descartes Kirk, Descartestm Dualism, Descartes Hatfield, , References Kirk, According Dualistic, kirk 2003, mind body, exist body, mind exist, mind exist body, body mind, physical world, mind exists, merely physical, mind soul, Evening Star, extra beyond merely, caused physical, soul exist body, ,
"Thank you so much! You have loads of content and this really helps me come up with ideas for my essays!"
"Your site is great! It provides a wide variety of essays on almost every topic."
"I really like the way you organize the information. it's been quite easy to find what I was looking for!"
"I signed up 2 years ago and have used your site to get ideas for my papers in several classes."
"When I have writers block, this is the first site I visit. You never let me down!"
| | | | |