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Locke's Criticism on Descartes' Philosophy of Calling Extension the Essence of Body - Essay Example

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Locke's Criticism on Descartes' Philosophy of Calling Extension the Essence of Body

Our body is not the essence of anything like extension as this concept lessens the significance of human body. Our body is solid while extension is empty space, hence there is no match between these two. Locke’s criticism on Descartes’ philosophy of calling extension the essence of body Rene Descartes, a French philosopher come mathematician of sixteenth century, is unanimously called as 'Father of Modern Philosophy' & the Father of Cartesian Doctrine which describes the relation between body and mind. "I think, therefore I am" is the most famous concept given by Descartes' about mind-body dualism. According to him, human beings are composed of two different things, body & soul or mind. The essence of soul (mind) is thought by which it controls the movements of body & the essence of body is extension. He argued that I can perceive my mind as an independent identity upon which there is no influence of extension (body) & I can distinctively perceive my body as a complete thing without the influence of my thoughts. Thus God has made the two things independent of each other so they behave like distinct objects. Here, the idea of extension is not very clear, i.e., whether it describes our body as a combination of solid parts which are there to move or extend, or is there something else Descartes wanted to explain? The idea was contrary enough as it says that there is no particular connection or relation between body & soul & they are independent of each other. He tried to explain the idea but could not provide enough valid points & arguments to prove this. One of his successors of seventeenth century, John Locke, an English philosopher, who is undoubtedly the philosopher of modern times & the originator of concepts like self & identity, presented his own theory of human understanding which is considered to be more authentic & reliable regarding the concepts of human identity & self. He contradicts Descartes’ Cartesian philosophy by saying that all human have innate ideas in their minds by birth & they acquire more knowledge through their vast experience & their individual use of senses & perception. According to him, the essence of body is not extension but consciousness & mind is nothing but a blank slate on which anything can be written by acquiring knowledge & wisdom. Children & babies from their early stages of development & even during their gestation period acquire simple kind of knowledge like color & taste distinction etc. The child is not born with such kind of knowledge but experiences such situations & learns from them, either by sensation or by reflection (perception). Thus every person’s body & mind are not two exclusive identities but they are linked together & body is used to perform according to mind’s instructions (Locke. 1959) In his famous book “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, Locke explained his point of view very deeply. He says that extension and body can never be the same things & if anyone says like that, he only tries to lessen the significance & importance of human body while the meaning or philosophy behind this still remains unclear & uncertain. Our body is not simply a combination of extended solid blocks of different shapes joined together for different movements; neither the extension only means the space or the area in which the body moves. Anything that simply occupies area or has some mass is termed as matter, not ...Show more

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Locke’s criticism on Descartes’ philosophy of calling extension the essence of body Instructor Name December 5, 2011 Abstract Famous French philosopher Descartes presented his philosophy of mind-body dualism saying that mind & body are two mutually exclusive things & body is independent of thoughts…
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Lockes Criticism on Descartes Philosophy of Calling Extension the Essence of Body essay example
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