How did Descartes Explain the Relationship between Mind and Body?

1092 WordsJun 18, 20185 Pages
Across the years, many scientists and philosophers believed that a human being is made up by mind and body (Radner, 1971). Some of them believed that the mind-soul is something different from the body and each of them works by themselves without any interaction between them (Radner, 1971). The other point of view said that body and mind works together as a unity and mutually influences each other and the result is the human being. This view had been held by great figures like the Greek philosopher Aristotle and Aquinas (Radner, 1971). Who argued that there should be a connection between mind-soul and body, because only in this way sensation and voluntary movement which needs both mind and body to operate can be explained (Radner, 1971).…show more content…
Indeed, with her letters to Descartes which included questions about the interaction between material body and immaterial soul helped him to complete and improve his work (Schmaltz, 1992; Fancher, & Rutherford, 2012). Moreover, Descartes’s theory about body and mind was obscure and complicated to Elizabeth’s mind, because she could not understand how interaction between mind and body could exist and how it is possible to influence each other (Fancher, & Rutherford, 2012). In May 1643, Descartes answer for the first time to Elizabeth’s letter and he tried to explain her, his observations and his theory with the following quotes: "there are two facts about the human mind on which depend all things that we can know of its nature. The first is that it thinks, the second that it is united to the body and can act and be acted upon along with it" (Schmaltz, 1992). In his ‘Treatise on the Passions of the Soul’ Descartes emphasized in the fact that the existence of each entity (Mind-Body) by itself would be meaningless. First of all, he claimed that a body without a soul would be like machine only doing the basic functions for its survivor and without any consciousness working under its emotional condition. On the other hand a soul without a body would be fully consciousness but only with specific ideas and without any knowledge of the external world (Fancher, & Rutherford, 2012). Thus, each one constitute so that human beings are able to operate normally, otherwise none of
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