Descartes Essay

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Erica Steska Major Questions in Philosophy First paper September 30th, 2006 Q: “How does Descartes try to prove that the mind or soul is, in its essential nature, entirely distinct from the body? Is he successful?” Descartes attempts to prove that the mind or soul is, in its essential nature, entirely distinct from the body by first bringing up the point that the mind must exist because it is capable of thinking. It IS, therefore it must BE. The mind, unlike the body, cannot be divided into any parts because it is not a solid object. The mind must exist as one being. Descartes, being a mathematician, sees the material world as a series of lines and angles and form. The body is part of this material world. It is purely a mixture of lines and shapes as is the rest of the world, which is perceived by the mind and may or may not be as we perceive them. The body, according to Descartes, is able to exist without the sum of its parts. If one loses a leg, the body can continue to exist without this leg, unlike the mind. In the passage, Descartes backs this up by saying “…I recognize that if a foot or arm or any other part of the body is cut off, nothing has thereby been taken away from the mind” meaning that one does not lose the capacity to perceive the world around us without this foot or arm. Although the mind and the body are distinct from one another, the body cannot exist as we know it to be, without the mind. The mind and body “form a unit.” The reason Descartes gives for this thinking is that one would not react to pain or hunger or thirst without something telling it to do so, but the mind could not feel these sensations without the cut to feel the pain or the mouth to dry out for the thirst. They interact with one another. When the stomach feels the pangs of hunger, the mind then tells the body to nourish

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