Descartes Wax Argument
In Meditation 2, Rene Descartes finds his existence in that he thinks, and that his essence is that he is a thinking thing. In only being a thinking thing, Descartes states that his mind is distinct and more real to him than his body (even if he has a body). Unlike the Aristotelian belief in which the mind and body are connected, Descartes now aims to show that it is not through his body, his senses, and his imagination that he knows with most distinctness, but it is his mind alone.
Descartes needs to discover that nothing is more clearly apprehended than his own mind. By showing that even in bodies or corporal properties, where it seems that his senses more easily understood than his mind, are in fact known and understood by his mind alone, Descartes reaches that conclusion. To help him find his way to that conclusion Descartes gives the wax argument to illustrate this point of complete understanding and perceiving through his mind, and not his senses or imagination. The conclusion of the wax argument now illustrates to him that there is nothing he knows more easily than his mind. i.
Suppose I discover that my senses or imagination are more easily apprehended than my own mind. ii.
Then my senses or imagination are more easily apprehended than my own mind iii.
But to more easily or clearly apprehend my senses or imagination more than my own mind, I must be able to properly perceive by my senses or imagination iv.
It appears that my senses better know and perceive corporeal things than my mind v.
I see a piece of wax that has color, smell, size, shape. vi.
But, once placed near a flame these sense qualities change- the taste, the smell, the color and shape are all destroyed vii.
Yet, I still know this now mutable, extendable and flexible thing to be the same wax as before its properties changed. viii.
So, since the sense properties of the wax changed, but I still understand this...
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