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Critically evaluate Rene Descartes's claim that the mind is not a part of the physical world. Could modern science help settl - Essay Example

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Critically evaluate Rene Descartes's claim that the mind is not a part of the physical world. Could modern science help settl

This essay critically evaluates Descartes’s claim that the mind is not a part of the physical world. It also includes a brief analysis of the response of modern science to this classical assumption. A Cartesian Perspective of the Mind Descartes believes that the tendency to associate sensible features with bodies is a mistake developed during childhood. During these early years individuals acquire the belief that the physical world is strongly connected to their sensations, or that it has the types of attributes it seems to possess in sense perception, both sensible and automatic. But indeed, he argues, bodies possess only automatic attributes, such as motion, size, and shape, and people’s perception of sensible attributes are brought about by formation of these attributes (Wilson, 2003). Challenging the simple perception of the physical world is a major objective of the Meditations. The movement against faith in the senses, and specifically against the belief that bodies are the same as sensations, is an important instrument in realising this objective, because Descartes believes the simple understanding of the physical world is mostly rooted in the notion that bodies are the same as people’s sensations (Morton, 2010). Descartes started his pursuit of truth by using his newly developed method of inquiry. His method used intense scepticism—all ideas that are doubtful were disregarded, including ancient wisdom taught by scholasticism. More critically, Descartes also doubted ideas coming from the senses because “from time to time I have found that the senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once” (Wilson, 2003, p. 37). Evidently this argument encouraged questioning much of the established knowledge, and eliminating them as potential groundwork of thought. All ideas of the physical world might be untrue, since knowledge of them arises from the untrustworthy senses. Moreover, the presence of the physical body was questioned based on the same justification (Engel & Soldan, 2007, p. 334): “I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things”. Descartes afterward thought that in order to doubt, he should exist as a ‘thinking’ being: “I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind” (Christofidou, 2013, p. 41). And then he defines a ‘thinking’ being as “a thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, is willing, is unwilling, and also imagines and has sensory perceptions” (Morton, 2010, p. 81). This series of arguments led him to his concluding point: the mind is not part of the physical w ...Show more

Summary

An Analysis of Cartesian Dualism Introduction Rene Descartes argues that the major value of scepticism is that it frees individuals from biases and facilitates a separation from the senses. The dynamics of scepticism is used because Descartes considers trust in the senses as strongly ingrained and requires drastic actions…
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Critically evaluate Rene Descartess claim that the mind is not a part of the physical world. Could modern science help settl essay example
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