Among other things, Renee Descartes was an influential philosopher during the enlightenment era. This era, which is characterized by what, at the time, was controversial thinking is exactly what Descartes was known for. His "out of the box" thinking not only raised eyebrows, but it also brought a lot to the table. One of his most discussed ideas was that of substance dualism. In this theory, Descartes describes the mind an body as two separate substances. But to completely understand exactly what Descartes means by this, one of his other, more renowned theories must be explained first.
One of Descartes' first ideas was the material is in constant motion, and that all motion is my contact. With this he explains that colors, sounds, smells, etc. are results of impressions produced by the action that the specific material has on our organs. So, to explain how we hear, Descartes says that sound is a result of noise physically hitting and making an impression upon our ears.
But, all of these sensory responses are purely physical. So, another explanation was needed in order to describe that which in not physical such as thoughts, emotion, pleasure, and pain. And the result of this was Descartes' substance dualism theory. Because things such as pleasure, pain, thoughts, and emotion do not occur physically, but rather in the mind, his conclusion was that they are two separate things. His main reasoning for this is clearly stated when he says "I saw that while I could pretend that I had no body and that there was no world and no place for me to be in, I could not for all that pretend that I did not exist. I saw on the contrary that from the mere face that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed..." (Stevenson 86). In this, he explains that it was possible for him to doubt the existence of his body, without doubting his own existence as a thinking being. Therefore his existence as a thinking being must...
Bibliography: Stevenson, Leslie. The Study of Human Nature. 2nd ed. New York, New York: Oxford UP, 1981.
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