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Rene Descarte


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The thread to discuss this Philosophy. I dont remember who I was talking to about this in the other thread but it was an interesting discussion.

 

Anyways what do you think about Descartes Meditations' date=' especially his Dualism theory?[/quote']

 

Let me get back to you, as I just picked up a book of his collected works and have yet to read it. :P

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He's arguably the most notable thinker on the subject. The whole soul and body thing was Platos. The guys theory is interesting, i'm a believer in that if you want to disagree with something, you must first understand what it is your disagreeing with, and Plato is possibly the most interesting thinker i've ever disagreed with, i almost wanted to side with him by the time i was through learning about his thinking.

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Its in The Republic yeah, and as i'm not familiar with Descartes philosophy, i couldn't answer. Plato's philosophy of dualism states that the soul, after the body is dead, will move onto the the wold of being, a place of true knowledge and understanding. He thinks of life as a journey of the soul, from the world of becoming (the physical world) to the world of being (the metaphysical world, platos heaven if you will), and thinks of the body as merely a carry case for the soul on its journey. He's widely criticised for his reduction of the body, and is accused of devaluing the body. You would be in good company challenging him with people such as B.F Skinner, Bertrand Russel, and even his own sudent Aristotle. There is a book called 'Thinks' which is a fictional story but explores Plato's philosophy, however, the main character Ralph, challenges it in the same way Skinner would. Many texts, including Shakespeares sonnet and a poem called The Extasie, and also Philip Larkins 'Aubade' endorse Platonic views of the metaphysical world being more valuable than the physical.

Could you briefly outline Descarte's views, and where, from my synopsis, he differs from Plato?

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Its in The Republic yeah' date=' and as i'm not familiar with Descartes philosophy, i couldn't answer. P[b']lato's philosophy of dualism states that the soul, after the body is dead, will move onto the the wold of being[/b], a place of true knowledge and understanding. He thinks of life as a journey of the soul, from the world of becoming (the physical world) to the world of being (the metaphysical world, platos heaven if you will), and thinks of the body as merely a carry case for the soul on its journey. He's widely criticised for his reduction of the body, and is accused of devaluing the body. You would be in good company challenging him with people such as B.F Skinner, Bertrand Russel, and even his own sudent Aristotle. There is a book called 'Thinks' which is a fictional story but explores Plato's philosophy, however, the main character Ralph, challenges it in the same way Skinner would. Many texts, including Shakespeares sonnet and a poem called The Extasie, and also Philip Larkins 'Aubade' endorse Platonic views of the metaphysical world being more valuable than the physical.

Could you briefly outline Descarte's views, and where, from my synopsis, he differs from Plato?

 

I could see Descartes adhering to that belief. What Plato suggests is pretty much what every religion preaches, I thought Plato was an atheist, no?

 

I recently did an essay on Descartes Dualism, its about 1700 words, if you like, i could post it here.

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Yeah that would be great if you could. And yes it is what every church preaches to an extent, Plato's ideas majorly influenced most metaphysical thinking, but if you ever get a chance to look at The Republican then read The parable of the cave, his thoughts on human ignorance are an eye opener, more so than his thoughts on the soul.

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Yeah that would be great if you could. And yes it is what every church preaches to an extent' date=' Plato's ideas majorly influenced most metaphysical thinking, but if you ever get a chance to look at The Republican then read The parable of the cave, his thoughts on human ignorance are an eye opener, more so than his thoughts on the soul.[/quote']

 

I have looked into it a bit, the dude loves to big himself up! Well at least hes made me look good now...

 

Anyway heres the essay. I almost got a First for it but there are probably still some mistakes.

 

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Rene Descartes Dualism theory has sparked many controversies amongst the Philosophers and Scientists. In his Meditation II, Descartes presents his explanation of Dualism as well as his arguments for the claim. Through his discussion of doubt, Descartes clarifies that the existence of the mind/soul is certain and he believes that the mind and body are two different substances/entities. This is often referred to as Substance Dualism or Cartesianism. In this essay I will examine the arguments he makes in order to reach his conclusion present counter arguments.

 

Descartes states in his meditation II ?...I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.? Descartes believes that it is not possible to deny that you are thinking and therefore the mind is a certainty, unlike the body which is divisible, physical and has a location and mass. From this Descartes concludes that he is essentially a thinking substance, rather than something which is physical.

 

He goes on to say, ?Yet I certainly seem to see, to hear, and to be warmed. This cannot be false; what is called ?having a sensory perception? is strictly just this, and in this..sense..it is simply thinking? (Med II) By this Descartes suggests that despite using physical attributes such as eyes, ears etc to see and hear things, they are still fundamentally only true because of the mind (sensory perception), which allows the body perceive such things. This is known as parallelism, which is essentially that the mind is the most dominant substance and that it does not depend on the body however the body can affect the mind and the two do interact.

 

I don?t believe that Descartes has a lot of strong elements in his reasoning; he does however have a few. For example he clarifies some certainties such as the thought processes. He says that by simply doubting is thinking, and by thinking is existing. There are still a few problems within this but I believe it is the strongest part of Descartes argument as he clarifies that there are in fact some certainties and that there is a mind that lets us ?...doubts, understands, affirms, denies, is willing, is unwilling, and also imagines and has sensory perceptions...Are not all these just as true as the fact that I exist, even if I am asleep..even if deceived??. Descartes believes that whether or not our bodies are real or not, our mind makes everything we see/hear seem real and for that reason it is as close to reality as we can get. I believe this is his strongest point, that the mind is a greater influence to reality than the body. However I don?t see this as a good argument to suggest that the mind and body are two separate substances.

 

Descartes has established what a thinking mind does and its existence however this does not show how he can assert that HE exists, and this is possibly biggest flaws in his argument. Strawson argues ?If we have no idea of how the notions of numerical identity and difference apply to individual consciousness then we really have no clear concept at all of such items?. Strawson argues that because Descartes cannot prove that the mind belongs to HIM then that causes Dualism to collapse. As humans are essentially thinking things and not physical things, they cannot be counted as regards to their body but rather they must be counted by the number of minds- of course an impossible takes as there is no possible way to count someone?s mind if it has no location, mass and is indivisible, so it will never be clear if a person has the same mind they had yesterday. How can it be certain that there is not only one mind that does all the thinking or that my mind changes every day? It would appear that his famous ?Cogito Ergo Sum? is in fact invalid.

 

Another point Strawson makes is that humans naturally refer to a person by their physical body as well as their mental personalities and not solely upon their mind. He states ?His mind was going through the mental processes involved in writing a letter?. Here Strawson argues that when people do the simplest of things (e.g. writing a letter) we do not express it in such way; rather we just say ?that person? is writing a letter, which implies that humans naturally consist of mind and body and that two are not separate, this is how to define a human. I believe this is one of the few very weak points in Strawson?s argument as it doesn?t really state anything but what is already clarified. When one is writing a letter the person is using his mentality and body to write it, and thus point does not argue Descartes. In terms of language and linguistics, perhaps we refer to the person?s name as it is merely easier and less time consuming?

 

Strawson?s conclusion states ??the human being is not one two-sided thing, but two one sided thing? to show that a person should not be separated into two different substances as Descartes suggests. Not only this causes problems such as actually being able to numerically identify persons but also to suggest that something which has no location or mass to be able to actually control and physically move something that does (the body) which raises further questions to how this is actually possible. This point is similar to what Jonathon Ree believes, ?(Cartesian Dualism)?which implies that since human beings had minds, they were more than mere parts of an all-engulfing physical universe.? (Descartes pp.100). To suggest that a human is formed up of two different substances and one of which has no location, nor mass and indivisible is to suggest that it is beyond the physical universe. This raises questions as to how something which is not physical in any sense exists at all in a place where everything is physical.

However it could be argued that if the pineal glands are where the interaction between the two substances takes place, then the soul has an area to which it operates, not necessarily exist at that place (pineal gland) but simply causes its affect there.

 

It could possibly be that modern philosophers are completely misinterpreting Descartes actual belief because of the translation and literal meanings of the words such as ?mental? or ?mind?. Perhaps Descartes was only simply trying to clarify what everyone could agree on that even physical sensations involve mental awareness. Jonathon Ree believes that Descartes was not actually making a separation between mind and body, but he was merely only trying to explain that it was possible for the soul to exist without a body. He states ?Like most other Christians, he thought that it was possible for individual souls to exist independently of bodies? (pp.98). Descartes also states ?I find I have insensibly reverted to the point I desired... bodies themselves are not properly perceived by the senses nor by the faculty of imagination, but by the intellect alone? it appears that Descartes was simply trying to establish the existence of a ?soul? that is the actual thing that gives us these imagines we see and thoughts we have. It is very difficult to counter argue some of the points that have been made against Dualism, especially the numerical argument that Strawson had presented and for that reason I can?t find a way to agree with it. However I do not believe that that was what Descartes was in fact trying to say that the mind are body are separate substances, or ?two-one sided coins?.

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I believe that to a certain extent a person is a union of a mental and physical thing as I cannot find many strong or valid defenses for the arguments against the Cartesian Dualism, I must reject it as it doesn?t make sense to me. I can only defend what I believe Descartes was trying to say, but I cannot defend the beliefs of the Cartesians. I am more of Cartesian materialist as I believe the existence of the soul that will live beyond the physical body and universe; however I do not believe that it is separate from the body, at least not now. However I do agree with some elements of the Dualist?s such as accepting that the mind does directly affect the body whereas the body will not directly affect the mind. For example one may have a terrible physical accident which leaves them mentally unstable. This however is not the direct cause of the harm done to the physical body, only that the individual has allowed the mind to be affected in such manner because of the occurrence on his body. I believe that in some sense the mind does have some superiority over the physical being. Nonetheless it is not enough for me to say that an individual has two sides as the Cartesians suggest. A person is only a person when he has a physical presence along with a mind, at least in this universe. A mind alone cannot be a person, but rather a thing. How does the Cartesians explain those individuals with mental illnesses who at one moment believe they are someone and the next someone else? Does that not support Strawson?s argument that if we were two different substances then different souls could simply be in different people at any time? To accept the Cartesian Dualism (as it is) would surely pose more unanswerable question than questions that it answers, therefore I do believe that a person is a union of a mental thing with a physical thing as what we know to be a ?person? is to accept that the individual is a thinking thing as well as having a physical presence. That is the sanest way of viewing people within this physical universe.

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Do you not find that Dualism, both Plato's and Descartes has the tendancy to dismiss the physical body as unimportant, putting to much emphasis on the mind? And also, I think its reasonable for the skeptic to demand a show of empirical evidence when 'this does not show how he can assert that HE exists' The assertion that defining something is to say that it is crops up in other arguments concerning existence, in the nature of the challenge, i'm curious, as i think your on Descartes side to some extent, what you say in his defence when the skeptic demands empirical evidence, or at least further verifaction of his claims?

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Do you not find that Dualism' date=' both Plato's and Descartes has the tendancy to dismiss the physical body as unimportant, putting to much emphasis on the mind? And also, I think its reasonable for the skeptic to demand a show of empirical evidence when 'this does not show how he can assert that HE exists' The assertion that defining something is to say that it is crops up in other arguments concerning existence, in the nature of the challenge, i'm curious, as i think your on Descartes side to some extent, what you say in his defence when the skeptic demands empirical evidence, or at least further verifaction of his claims?[/quote']

 

Like I stated in my essay I really dont believe that Descartes had held the position of the body as low as philosphers like to think.

 

however it is evident that he believes that the mind is in ways more "important" than the body, to which I agree fully.

 

and to be honest with you, i really dont have an explanation for strawsons argument. but that is because i am relatively new to philosopher and i havent read much. however there was a person on this forum that did say something about this argument. something to do with repetition and sequences, im not too sure what it was.

 

though what about knowledge? when i see someone else, or at least when i PERCEIVE that im seeing someone else, surely that thing i perceive knows things i do not. if there were only thoughts that existed then why did i not know those? or maybe this is just a lame argument but its the only thing i can think of

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Its hard for me to comment on Descarte as i'm relatively knew to his philosophy. But i would have to disagree with you about the mind being more important. As a physicalist i dont believe in life after death and therefore the physical bodys experiences are just as important as the minds, i hold both in high regard as i dont believe neither could exist without the other.

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Its hard for me to comment on Descarte as i'm relatively knew to his philosophy. But i would have to disagree with you about the mind being more important. As a physicalist i dont believe in life after death and therefore the physical bodys experiences are just as important as the minds' date=' i hold both in high regard as i dont believe neither could exist without the other.[/quote']

 

it depends what you believe the body is

 

i think the body is a channel through which the mind can interact with other minds and the physical world

 

i guess there isnt much to discuss when one does not believe that the soul will live on.

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Just an extra note' date=' i believe Plato's form of dualism holds more strength than Descartes, i think he presents a stronger case, but that may be because i've not fully understood Descarte. Any philosophy student knows how difficult it can be to grasp a thinkers theory haha[/quote']

 

but to be honest strawson doesnt really use empirical proof either

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None the less i found this thread interesting and learned a little something about Descartes, so definately worthwhile. Good luck with your studies - i dont know if you already have or are going to, but i enjoy a challenge in philosophy, i enjoy taking on thinkers theorys that challenge my views, ressurection is going to be one i'm going to have to wrestle with undoubtedly, and if this is the same approach you take to philosophy then you should enjoy studying B.F Skinner. He was meant to be a thinker i could side with, but he's one of those thinkers that really annoys anyone atheist/believer alike, who isn't himself.

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None the less i found this thread interesting and learned a little something about Descartes' date=' so definately worthwhile. Good luck with your studies - i dont know if you already have or are going to, but i enjoy a challenge in philosophy, i enjoy taking on thinkers theorys that challenge my views, ressurection is going to be one i'm going to have to wrestle with undoubtedly, and if this is the same approach you take to philosophy then you should enjoy studying B.F Skinner. He was meant to be a thinker i could side with, but he's one of those thinkers that really annoys anyone atheist/believer alike, who isn't himself.[/quote']

 

just curious how long have you been doing philosohpy and at what uni?

 

im just moving to my second semester in a week in my first year so im very fresh to this all, but i love it

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I'm only in my second year of college' date=' not at uni yet - so its been one year and a half that i've been doing philosophy[/quote']

 

oh which uni ar you planning on? im guessing you will do this subject

 

i didnt even want to do history but my uni made us pick another subject, so i went with this and im enjoying it on a level i didnt think i could ever enjoy work

 

kinda proves the determinist argument correct but oh well

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The thread to discuss this Philosophy. I dont remember who I was talking to about this in the other thread but it was an interesting discussion.

 

Anyways what do you think about Descartes Meditations' date=' especially his Dualism theory?[/quote']

 

Rene Descarte particular philosophy is referred as substance dualism because he believed that the universe consisted of two different kinds of substances that he termed res extensa (extended things, physical things) and res cogitates (thinking things).

 

The material body and the immaterial mind. The opposite of this view would be monism. What we must realize is that monism fails to to account for all of the features of the mind

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From your use of the word semester i'm guessing your american, i'm from england so naming a uni would be pointless. And i did think about taking philosohy for a long time, it was a subject that fascinated me, however, i opted for english literature, as i've got the natural knack for it. But i dont think i'm going to go to uni at all as i've got aspirations of joining my local police force. Good luck with your studys. Philosophy is a subject that i think never gets boring, so you will enjoy it on a level you didnt know existed.

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Rene Descarte particular philosophy is referred as substance dualism because he believed that the universe consisted of two different kinds of substances that he termed res extensa (extended things' date=' physical things) and res cogitates (thinking things).

 

The material body and the immaterial mind. The opposite of this view would be monism. What we must realize is that monism fails to to acc[b']ount for all of the features of the min[/b]d

 

like what

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like what

 

Dualists can reject materialism on the grounds that they have argued and reasonably demonstrated that the mind cannot be entirely material. Materialists, on the other hand, only seem able to maintain their conviction by denying what seems obvious or placing hope that in some future date science will explain what seems inexplicable today.

 

Why certain things happen in the brain and why people have certain experiences

 

 

 

I like the following site

 

 

http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/d/dualism.htm

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Fast' date=' are you familiar with B.F Skinner and his behaviourism? He does a great job of opposing dualism, read him, and see what you think about what he says in relation to dualism.[/quote']

 

He wrote that in 1974, the year I was born. I will research it and get back to you.

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The thread to discuss this Philosophy. I dont remember who I was talking to about this in the other thread but it was an interesting discussion.

 

Anyways what do you think about Descartes Meditations' date=' especially his Dualism theory?[/quote']

You talked to me, but I'm not sure I can discuss this with you in detail. Of all the philosophers, I know Descartes and Unger to a certain extent. The rest, I have forgotten or only know the names. There are a few after Unger that I know but cant recall the names.

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