Topics: Mind, Thought, René Descartes Pages: 3 (913 words) Published: April 16, 2013
Have you ever felt that you didn’t know what your purpose was in this world? Or if you even exist at some times? Well by even questioning the idea of existence, by definition of Descartes and David Cunning, you do exist. Descartes came up with this notion of “I am. I exist,” which means if you are doubt, ponder, think or judge then you exist (THC 224). Before we get too far into Descartes beliefs we need to understand his two conjectures of the res extensa and the res cogitans, which respectively means extended thing and the thinking thing (THC 223). Descartes believes that human nature is made up of two substances, one material and one spiritual: the extended thing which applies to everything organic or inorganic and the thinking thing, which according to Descartes, is only humans. He comes to the conclusion that only humans have minds because only humans can wonder and doubt things. David Cunning explains that animals do in fact have brains but they do not have the mental processes that we humans possess, they merely have a brain that receives messages from sensors but no cognitive ability (Cunning 123). Nina Rosenstand continues to add that there are two reasons why humans are the only ones with a mind. First, of the material and mental substances, only humans share in the mental side and secondly you need a mind to be self-aware. Pain is and awareness of a reaction to something so humans can be aware of pain because we have minds. She concludes that yes animals do have nerve reactions to stimuli that we humans would consider painful, but since animals have no minds, they experience no pain (226). Now that we know humans are the only ones with minds that can think we can look at Descartes’s method of doubt. Even as a young man, as explained by Rosenstand, “Descartes felt that he was destined to change the course of science and philosophy. One night he had a persistent dream: he was going to invent a new science” (THC 223). He came up with six meditations of...
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