Essay on A challenge to Materialism

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Cartesian Dualism Challenged
In this paper, I will examine the issues of individuation and identity in Descartes’ philosophy of mind-body dualism. I will begin by addressing the framework of Cartesian dualism. Then I will examine the problems of individuation and identity as they relate to Descartes. Hopefully, after explaining Descartes’ reasoning and subsequently offering my response, I can show with some degree of confidence that the issues of individuation and identity offer a challenge to the Cartesians’ premise of mind-body dualism.
Before diving into a critical examination of these two issues, it would be wise to first discuss the basis of Descartes’ philosophy. Descartes begins his discussion of mind …show more content…

Specifically, I am concerned with how I can distinguish minds from each other.
Strawson articulates the need for this distinction in his discussion of what he labels “the central difficulty in Cartesianism.” Strawson argues that if we want to talk about individual items—minds, bodies, computers, baseball cards, bananas, or practically anything—we must first understand the difference between one of that item and two of that item. In other words, to talk about an individual, you have to be able to count the individual. However, Cartesian philosophy does not allow for counting minds. The only mind you can know about is your own. Through introspection, I may be able to conclude that I am a thinking thing myself, much like Descartes did, but I cannot tell if the girl sitting at the computer next to me has one mind, three minds, seventeen minds, or even no mind at all. Thus the Cartesian cannot individuate minds. Strawson finds this fact problematic for the Cartesians, as the Cartesian “wants his doctrine to have the consequence that a perfectly ordinary man… has just

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