Write a essay on one of the following topics.
1.Descartes expresses two arguments for the existence of God in the Third Meditation. In your own words, explain the steps in the one that we discussed in class, and how this argument fits into the project of the Meditations Do you think that the argument is successful? Defend your answer.
2.In the Sixth Meditation Descartes provides reasons for thinking that mind and body are two fundamentally different substances, in other words, different kindsof things altogether. Do you think that his conclusion that the mind must be an immaterial substance, entirely distinct from the matter of the body, is well-supported? Defend your answer.
Descartes' Sixth Meditation and the existence of material things
The French mathematician and scientist is considered as the first modern philosopher. Descartes is well known for having made a significant relation between algebra and geometry which discovered ways of solving geometrical problems through algebraic equations. One of his work that is most famous is Meditationes de Prima Philosophia which is known as Meditations on First Philosophy. The book consists of six meditations where Descartes eliminates believes that are uncertain and not wholly truths the establish things that can be certain and be known to be sure. The writing is based on the possibilities of science with a philosophical groundwork. This essay aims to discuss on his sixth meditation that provides reasons for thinking that mind and body are two different substance. The essay also examines Descartes’ believe that mind must be an immaterial substance that is entirely distinct from the matter of the body.
Argument summary: Entitled as ‘The existence of material things, and the real distinction between mind and body’ is the sixth meditation is the final meditation that is. The sixth meditation begins with the meditator thinking about the existence of material things. In this meditation, the potential existence of material outside of the self and God is addressed by Descartes (Descartes, 2008). Firstly the objects that have existed on earth since God created them is emphasised by him. Hence, the knowledge possessed by human being regarding the physical world outside them is in a non-theoretical sense. The existence of material objects is only since they are the subject-matter of pure mathematics. It has truths which can be understood distantly and apparently without any vagueness. Descartes produced two reasons that can be held responsible for material things existence. The first argument on the existence of material things is based on the faculty of imagination and another is based on the senses.
The first distinguish that is made by Descartes is between pure imagination and imagination. With the help of a triangle, he explained the way he can observe that it is a three sided figure and it derives different sort of other properties using the same understanding. Descartes is able to view these properties with an imagination that is by having a picture of a triangle in the mind’s eye. Nevertheless, the imagination ought to be unclear when a 1000 sided picture is imagined. It becomes difficult to imagine in the mind’s eye to have an image of all the figures and even more difficult to differentiate that single image among the rest 999 sided figures. It is only in mathematical relation where a pure understanding of all the features of the figures can be perceived easily.
Descartes' argument from imagination
The imagination of mind is not easy to perform as it is possible for the meditator to exist even without the performance of imagining. Hence it is crucial to rely the imagination for its existence on something that would be mind than anything. The mediator assumes that the imagination is related with the body, therefore, it lets the mind to picture objects that are corporeal in nature. In order to understand, the mind goes towards within on itself and to imagine, the mind goes towards the body. The meditator agrees that on this aspect that it is only a secure connection however it is not concrete evidence that can prove the existence of the body.
Descartes reflects on his perception gained by means of the senses. According to him, there is a body that has existence in a world, and it is capable of experiencing pleasure, pain, emotions, hunger and many other needs. It is also capable of recognizing other bodies with extension, smell, form, colour, rigidity, movement, warmth, taste and many more. Descartes also thinks it is common to consider these perceptions are obtained from external sources. These perceptions are involuntarily visited by the body and these are extremely vivid than the perceptions that are created within his mind. It is also important to mention his knowledge regarding this aspect that the feelings were not possible to develop voluntarily. In the circumstances, when it comes without involuntarily it would be common to think these feelings as a basis of sensory ideas in a way similar to the concepts. Through this perspective, it is can be convinced easily to an individual that every knowledge is not obtained from through senses.
Evaluation: According to Descartes, the term ‘body’ is mentioned as counter-intuitive and therefore it is inter-related to the field of physics that does not appear explicitly in the Meditation. The commentary piece will vary depending on the text that it actually comments on for clarification of some concepts of Cartesian physics. The extension is the primary attribute of body is the claim on which the whole Cartesian physics is based on, and there is nothing that is needed in order to understand the body. The term, ‘Extension’ explains itself as extended in space, therefore, the body is only something that inhabits space. It should be remembered that Descartes was an extraordinary mathematician who created the coordinate system and analytic geometry which carries his name. The body should be understood as something that can be graphed in coordinate space since it was Descartes’ physics that was highly mathematical. According to desecrate, there were hardly any differences between physics and geometry as well as bodies and empty spaces. The mathematical formalisation of extended substances is geometry as per Descartes. Therefore there is no distinction between geometry and physics if the body is nothing more than an extension. In a similar way even if space is empty it is extended therefore, space is would only be as the material objects. It is also noted that the same space cannot be occupied two bodies. In any circumstances, two bodies occupying the similar space is ought to possess the same extension which means the body would be same since there is no other thing more than extension of the body.
Descartes' argument from the senses
The primary issue with Descartes’ physics was not providing an explanation that causes things to move. Questions regarding energy and force arises when the body is called simply an extension. The answers to the questions can be obtained from it. Firstly, it is God that is responsible for the force that moves every object, however, the answers is contrived. Secondly, God has re-constructed the world at every instance that means which interprets changes as an illusion. Thirdly, God is the only one creating natural laws into the universe and that performs the acts behalf of him.
Based on two strategies Descartes’ argument on the existence of body can be discussed. One, he can exhibit the existence of body supported by reasons. He states vividly that the main feature of body is an extension. The argument of Descartes on imagination and senses are the explanation that his intellectuals faculties were linked with things that were mind’s external. Although Descartes’ argument from the imaginations regarding the existence of body was only a supposition, the argument on the senses was satisfying. Therefore, alternatively, strategies followed by him in his writing on physics was merely to demonstrate that body as existing and of being basically extended, and that creates universe’s whole physical explanation. When this perspective is taken complete as well as satisfying, without any scope for doubting and questing the perspective that body exists, and it is basically extended.
The six meditation of Descartes’ is about the existence of material things. Descartes in his first meditation had provisionally denied the fact. His response, in the beginning regarding the concept, was that they could exist considering that it is a pure mathematics. Descartes believe that God can bring any object into existence however it can also be from the faculty of imagination. Hence, “an application of the knowing faculty to a body intimately present to it- hence, a body exists” the imagination was not significant to him, he believed he would remain same without it as well. According to him, imagination is not mandatory, while understanding the mind thinks of the ideas and in imagination the mind intuits things in the body that are similar to ideas that are either understood through the mind or perceived by sense. Therefore, according to him, the body is not something deniable, yet it is an extended form. Descartes perspective can be understood clearly however, it is also important to know that he was a mathematician who would perceive the world in that same way. In the creation of his Meditation on First Philosophy, he has been portraying in a similar way. Whether he acknowledged or not his thoughts were linked to other thinking or imaginations apart from his senses which gives concrete evidence on the existence of the body.
Descartes, R. (2008). Meditations on first philosophy: With selections from the objections and replies. Oxford University Press.
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