Descartes' Mind-Body Problem

Topics: Metaphysics, Ontology, Mind Pages: 3 (1038 words) Published: May 12, 2013
Descartes’ Mind-Body Problem
In Meditations I, Descartes conceives that he is “A thinking thing,” and this is based on his reasoning that there must be something that exists that is producing the meditations that arise in his awareness (Descartes 137). Descartes maintains that this reasoning solves the initial doubts that were addressed in Meditation I. He then becomes aware of the problem that although one can be certain that a thinking thing exists, one cannot be sure that there is the existence of a body. Descartes then goes on to explain the relationship between the thinking thing and the corporeal body, in order to address the problem that arises when he concludes that he is “A thinking thing.”

Descartes concludes that there is a definite distinction between the mind and the body. This conclusion is based on the same kind of first-person reasoning that he used in all of his Meditations. That is, when he uses the term, “I,” he is referring to himself as the thinking thing, and he assumes that this same mode of thought can be used for every “I” or thinking thing in the world. His fundamental argument that he believes proves the distinction between mind and body is as follows: I have a clear and distinct conception of the mind as a thinking, non-physical thing and I have a clear and distinct conception of the body as a material, non-reflective thing, so the mind is truly separate from the body and can be completely independent from it (Descartes 177). Descartes goes on to say that there is a peculiarity of the thinking thing’s association with material bodies. The sensations convey material things to me, one of which is a material body that appears to have an exceptionally close connection to me—the corporeal body that I regard as my own. Descartes refers to his own body, in which he says that this particular body, “which…I called my own, pertained to me more properly and strictly than any of the others; for in truth, I could never be separated from it as...
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