Philosophy of Mind and Body

Topics: Mind, René Descartes, Soul Pages: 3 (956 words) Published: May 11, 2012
Explain concisely the philosophical problems of the relation between the mind and body.

The mind and our understanding of what it is has been the centre of philosophical debate since the 6th Century BC where the ancient Greeks sort for ways of explaining human action. No longer did the Homeric understanding that human action was simply the result of his environment sufficient, an inward search to explain actions took place and as such, the concept of psyche was developed. The concept of psyche evolved through terms such as soul and then mind through philosophical debate and mistranslation since this period, and it is the aim of this paper to show how the mind has been conceptualised and the irrationality of associating in like form to that of the body.

In order to understand the problems with relating the mind and body – the concept of Cartesian dualism, as theorised by Descartes needs to be examined. Descartes believed in an independent nonmaterial soul inhabiting and finding expression in a mechanically operated body. Descartes used his own words cogito ergo sum, “I am thinking therefore I exist” as somewhat of an unanswerable means of proof. In an attempt to understand everything and break it down to its most simplest form, Descartes the skeptic attempted to doubt everything in order to understand himself. He argues that he can doubt everything around himself, he can even doubt that his own body exists, however he can no doubt that he is doubting, - he could not doubt the existence of his own self, because he could not doubt it unless there was a self to do the doubting. Further to this point, Augustine writes in his City of God - Without any delusive representation of images and phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, "What if you are deceived?" For if I am deceived, I still am.

Descartes after arguing his position that...
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