Distinction between Mind and Body In Descartes Meditation VI, he takes on the task of explaining his ideas of the distinction between the mind and body. Descartes claims that they are in fact two separate and distinct things. These ideas initiate many objections from his contemporaries because if their very different beliefs. I will also explain their views and why they disputed Descartes.
In Meditation VI, Descartes makes his argument for the distinction between mind and body. In a summary, he states that the mind is an immaterial, thinking thing. It takes up no space. The body on the other hand, is a non-thinking material thing that does take up space. Descartes had a process of reasoning this idea out. First, is something is clear and distinct, then it can exist as it is perceived, but it doesn t necessarily have to.
He explains this concept with the triangle we see as an image in our minds. We see an object with three sides and 180 degrees of total interior angles. We also could imagine the chili agon which has one thousand sides. Both can exist, but only one does exist as a reality outside our imagination. He then states that is something is perceived as clear and distinct, then it is clear and distinct. From that he claims he is a thinking thing because he perceives himself as a thinking thing clearly and distinctly.
Then he makes his big conclusion. He states that he clearly and distinctly perceives himself as a mind and a body. They are two separate parts. His mind, a thinking, non-extended thing, and his body, a non-thinking, extended thing.
This is when he actually comes out and says mind and body are distinct and separate. Since his body is a physical thing, he concludes that he can exist without it. The two most important parts to this argument are the conclusions that two beings are clear and distinct if they are perceived as so, and his mind and body are clearly and distinctly separate. Descartes sees the mind and body as two separate things. He distinguishes his mind and body by divisibility. The body is divisible because it is made up of so many smaller pieces just like any other physical thing.
The mind is not divisible. It is one being, therefore suggesting a spiritual essence. Descartes believes that he (a mind / soul ) can exist without the body, but the body ceases to exist without the mind. Gassendi and Hobbes have many objections to Descatres Meditation VI. Gassendi says that Descartes Meditation VI is no different from Meditation II. It makes no new advances to prove his point.
In fact, he thinks that Descartes never proves through his whole essay that his body is a non-thinking thing. Gassendi and Hobbes are Materialists. Materialists believe that there is no mind / spiritual soul, but a physical brain and body only. They say that the body and mind are inseparable. They challenge Descartes that if they are separate, there must be a way that they are connected to each other as well, for they work together all the time. Descartes replies that there is a small gland in the brain that connects them, but this doesn t make sense because the gland is physical.
How can something physical be the mediator between the physical and the non-physical It s impossible, and Hobbes and Gassendi both know this, therefore win the argument. They prove that Descartes has an argument that makes no sense, and he can t explain his reasons for thinking so. Descartes knows they have a point and never really tries or completely answers their questions. Descartes knows his argument for the distinction is not valid. There is a glitch in it.
Gassendi says in his objection, although you recognize that you are thinking, you still do not know what kind of thing you, who are thinking, are. Gassendi shows that although Descartes knows that he thinks therefore exists, he still doesn t know what he is. So what good is it to know you are, but don t know what you are In the Second Meditation The nature of the human mind, and how it is better known than the body, Descartes accomplishes many things. Right off, he determines the fact that he exists. The way he knows that he exists is because he thinks. But he goes on to say that he doesn t know whom I is; that is, he knows he exists, but he doesn t know exactly what he is.
His first thought of what he is, is that he has a face, hands, arms and a whole mechanical structure of limbs. This is the physical body he describes. He also discovered it was nourished, that I moved about, and that I engaged in sense-perception, and thinking. This, he thought was the soul.
But what is a soul He characterized it as wind or fire, something that he could have an image of in his imagination. Then he finally came to the conclusion that any physical object (specifically his body) takes up space and that was the only truth he could be certain of about it. He came to this conclusion by reason of the mind. Descartes true intentions for the Second Meditation is not to distinguish mind and body from each other, but to prove that physical objects outside oneself are known because of understanding of mind and not by senses. Descartes uses the wax example as his big analogy to explain this concept. The wax is perceived by the senses to be a certain color, size, shape, etc.
But senses are somewhat deceiving because these physical objects can change, like the wax taking on a totally different form after it was melted by the fire. Therefore, to know it is there, you must rely totally on your intellect of it being there. It is the only way to come to the truth of an object. Descartes does not argue for the distinction between mind and body in the Second Meditation. He waits until Meditation VI to do this. The purpose of the Second Meditation is to prove that you must rely on your intellect to know the truth of the outside world around you Hobbes and Gassendi believed that Descartes was trying to prove the mind was a soul and it was spiritual.
Of course, they don t believe that, and they thought Descartes was trying to sneak that idea into the second meditation. Descartes makes it clear that the body is associated with the sense perception and the mind is not. He says we must not use sense perception because it is deceitful and does not show us the true nature of things. Therefore, Hobbes and Gassendi think that by this idea, Descartes is making a distinction between the mind and body. They argue that if you don t use your senses, you in a sense don t use your body.
The understanding of things is of the mind, therefore, you use your mind and not senses in order to come to a clear and distinct conclusion. It is a clear distinction of the mind and body to the contemporary critics. Descartes defends himself by saying this was not his intention yet. In my own evaluation of Descartes Meditations, I agree with some of his points.
I am not so radical as either side of the argument between Descartes and Hobbes/ Gassendi. I agree with Descartes that the mind is made up of a soul. I have no proof or evidence for this, it is just faith in my good God. I also agree that our good God is not a deceiver. So therefore, I believe that the senses we use are justifiable and reliable. I think they are truthful to us.
God gave them to us to use, and this is the only was we can perceive the beauty around us in the outside world. It s a gift we received from our good God and we are meant to use them along with our mind. He gave us reason also, which I agree is more reliable because we understand truths about deeper concepts with reason. Descartes is a credible man with intelligent ideas. His arguments for the distinction between the mind and body are reasonable. I m sure the concept will be debated for centuries to come.
Is there a real distinction between the mind and body How are they connected to each other if there are Hobbes and Gassendi made good objections to Descartes ideas. 34 a.