The Argument Put Forward By Descartes Essay

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In this essay I will be exploring the argument put forward by Descartes whereby he can conclude that there is an external world. I will be looking into his ideas to do with the difference between imagination and intellect and breaking the main points he puts forward in explanation of the existence of the external world that surrounds us. I will then look into multiple objections to Descartes ideas and show why I believe Descartes argument stands up against criticism.

At the start of Meditation VI, Descartes begins by proposing that imagination is distinct from pure understanding. "The mind, when it understands, in a sense turns toward itself and looks at one of the ideas that are in it, whereas when it imagines, it turns towards the body, and intuits in the body something that conforms to the idea" (Descartes, Weissman, and Bluhm, 1996, p. 93) As a substance dualist, this idea was important to Descartes since the imagination is evidently linked to physical objects through the senses while understanding does not require the presence of physical objects or their images: they are two quite separate things.

With Descartes concepts on imagination and understanding in mind, we can look back to the argument he offered for dualism presented in Meditation II, which many see as inadequate. Many philosophers believe that Descartes was not committed to this as an argument since it was badly constructed and weak. Descartes himself seems to admit this fact in replying Arnauld, one of
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