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Analysis of Descartes’ Mind/Body Distinction Essay

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In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes states “I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in as far as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other hand, I possess a distinct idea of body, in as far as it is only an extended and unthinking thing”. [1] The concept that the mind is an intangible, thinking entity while the body is a tangible entity not capable of thought is known as Cartesian Dualism. The purpose of this essay is to examine how Descartes tries to prove that the mind or soul is, in its essential nature, entirely distinct from the body and whether or not he is successful. While I agree with his theory that the mind and body are distinct, I do not believe the mind is non-extended and I do not…show more content…
Without the quantifiable entity that is the brain, the mind would have no medium for which to exist.

One, such as Descartes, might argue that because the brain has a physical presence, it is solely an entity of the body; the mind consists only of the intangibles. My response to such a statement is that because the mind exists only in the synapses that comprise the brain, the mind and brain are inseparable and therefore a single entity. Moods and complex emotions are heavily influenced by physical properties of the brain, such as the levels of certain chemicals. The loss of certain components of the brain can lead to an alteration of the mind as well. For example, Alzheimer’s disease causes dementia, a severe alteration of the mind, by destroying certain neurons and synapses. No other organ or appendage of the human body possesses this quality. The removal of a spleen or loss of a limb cannot permanently alter the mind on a primary level.

One might also argue that if a person does not have to consciously think about an activity, it must be a function of the body. However, if the brain is viewed as an extension of the mind, this statement is also proven untrue by what is known of human anatomy. The entire network that is the nervous system leads ultimately to the brain. In addition, it is known that the brain stem is largely responsible for controlling the electrical impulses that regulate involuntary
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