Essay on Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes

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In his work, Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes writes to rid pre-conceptions, and disprove all belief in thoughts that are not certain, accepting only what can be known for sure. In his Meditation VI: Of the Existence of Material Things, and the Real Distinction between the Mind and Body of Man, he discusses his belief that the mind and body are two separate substances, claiming that the nonmaterial mind and the material body, while being ontologically distinct substances, causally interact; a belief called Cartesian dualism. Descartes explains that he has a clear and distinct idea of himself as a thinking and non-extended thing, and a clear and distinct idea of his body as a non-thinking and extended thing. He argues…show more content…
Descartes, in response to this objection, suggested that animal spirits interacted with the body through the pineal gland, a small gland located between the two hemispheres in the center of the brain. Descartes’ answer is a weak response to this argument, because the nature of animals cannot explain the nature of humans. Also, the pineal gland is, in fact, a physical entity, and therefore initial objection still stands; How can a nonphysical mind interact with the physical pineal gland? It is evident that the mind and the body must interact. As Aristotle writes in his work, De Anima, “It seems that all the affections of the soul involve the body – passion, gentleness, fear, pity, confidence, and also joy and both loving and hating. For at the same time as these occur, the body is affected in a certain way…it is clear that the affections of the soul are principles involving matter.” The body reacts the soul, and the two interact to create emotion and sensation. It is also clear that the mind is more than a function of the brain. If the brain were simply matter, with no interaction with the mind, then each brain would think and form opinions in the same manner. It is obvious that this fact is not true. Consider instances in which the exact same information is presented, different individuals will often come to different opinions. Would this occur if thought was simply a function of matter? This could not be if only our brains are used to interpret information with
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