René Descartes Does Not Reject Sense Perception Essay

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René Descartes Does Not Reject Sense Perception

Some have suggested that René Descartes argues that sense perception relies on the mind rather than on the body. Descartes asserts that we can know our mind more readily than we can know our body. In support of this idea he gives the example of a piece of wax which is observed in its solid form and its liquid form. After pointing out the difficulties of relying on the senses of the physical body to understand the nature of the wax he makes this claim: [P]erception ... is neither a seeing, nor a touching, nor an imagining. ... [R]ather it is an inspection on the part of the mind alone (Section 31). 1 This quote is perhaps the most direct statement of the author's thesis on this subject.
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Yet I am a true thing and am truly existing; but what kind of thing? I have said it already: a thinking thing (Section 27). Note here that Descartes equates mind, intellect, understanding, reason, and soul with thinking 3 .

Having assured himself that he exists and that the essential nature of his self includes at least the capacity to think he then explored the question What else am I? (Section 27) and reached this conclusion: But then what am I? A thing that thinks (res cogitans). What is that? A thing that doubts (dubitans), understands (intelligens), affirms (affirmans), denies (negans), wills (volens), refuses (nolens), and that also imagines (imaginans) and senses (sentiens) (Section 28). Descartes acknowledges that thinking includes doubt, understanding, affirmation, denial, will (volition), refusal, imagination, and senses .

Descartes has said the senses (sentiens) are a part of the process of thinking (cogitans), now he clarifies what he means when he speaks of the senses in the remainder of the text. Yet I certainly do seem to see, hear, and feel warmth. This cannot be false. Properly speaking, this is what in me is called 'sensing (sentire).' But
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