Mind-Body Problem- Descartes the Discussion Over the Term Paper

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Mind-Body Problem- Descartes

The discussion over the relationship between mind and body that has been intriguing philosophers for a long time is divided into two broad categories: dualism and monism. According to dualism mind and body are two separate substances. There are several types of dualist views including parallelism, epiphenomenalism, occassionalism and interactionism. John Locke and Rene Descartes are among those who laid the foundation of this idea. Whereas Locke and Descartes believed in Dualism, there were other famous philosophers and thinkers who supported monism. Monism refers to the theory that mind and body are inseparable and thus one is influenced by the other.

Aristotle, Hobbes, Hegel and Berkeley were some of the well-known theorists who believed in monism though their views differed slightly. Monist arguments were in direct contrast with dualist views but it is Philosophical writings of Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and his dualism theory that paves the way for further debate and discussion in this important mind-body issue. The whole problem revolves around the question, is mind the same thing as body and if yes, how and if no, why not? The debate may appear simple to those of us who are rather scientific in our thinking. Modern scientists have removed the soul and spirit part to dissolve and discard the mind body issue. However the solution is not that simple, not at least for philosophers who have tried endlessly to seek a suitable answer to this question.

Rene Descartes resolved the issue by focusing on the dualist views, which suggest that mind and body are two different entities, which interact with each other as, and when the need arises. He presented two arguments in this connection, which have been widely challenged and argued by later philosophers. However Descartes' views were found interesting and opened door for further research and debate in this area.

In the first argument, he states that mind and body are separate entities, which cannot be considered 'one' for several reasons. He based his argument on the notion that since existence of mind cannot be doubted while body's existence is debatable; it means that the two are not the same. In Meditation 2-page 262, Descartes clearly writes: "You cannot doubt you have a mind. You can doubt that you have a body. So, your mind and your body are not identical." However this is a highly vague idea, which doesn't leave anyone wiser. Why…

Sources Used in Document:


Flew A. (1979): A Dictionary of Philosophy, London: Pan Books Ltd.

R. Rorty,(1980) Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: Princeton.

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