Essay on Descartes’ argument that he is a thinking thing and that his mind is distinct from, and does not depend on, his body (Meditation Six).
Many people believe that most aspects of human life and existence are interconnected and that one aspect of their beings is usually dependent on another. From connections to the universe and even beliefs about the paranormal, most people have a belief there is an association in everything under the sun. However, not all people have such ideologies and they usually set out to prove that there are distinctions in many human characteristics. An example of such an individual is Rene Descartes who had a belief that it was possible to distinguish between his intellectual capabilities from his physical body. The two were separate and therefore his mental capability did not depend on his body. I agree with Descartes on this issue. The human mind is capable of existing independently without inherently depending on the body.
René Descartes had a very distinct opinion on the existence of material things, the human body and the human mind. However, some theorists argue that the mind and the body are the same thing. In previous meditations, the philosopher comes up with an explanation for the existence of God. Through different arguments, Descartes comes up with a conclusion that as long as he exists, there must be something bigger than him that also exists. This bigger power is defined as God (Descartes 47). With this in mind, Descartes begins to explore the capabilities of God like his ability to create things that are distinct from one another. This statement means that God is able to create things that are independent from each other. Subsequently, from this possibility, Descartes concludes that his mind is independent from his body and that he is a thinking being as opposed to a physical being. Descartes argues that the body and the mind are two different realities.
Descartes’ arguments are based on a series of steps that have been analyzed from meditation one and developed to what he concluded in meditation six. In fact, each meditation refers to the previous one thus showing consistent development. I agree with Descartes’ arguments on this issue as they present an argument that is applicable in real life. As seen above, all his arguments are based on the fact that God exists and that man also exists. Through the different explanations given, the arguments are vivid and qualitative. By calling himself a thinking being, Descartes helps us to understand that the mind is a powerful and independent being (Descartes 48). Descartes acknowledges the existence of the body but does not give it as much importance as he gives the mind. According to Descartes, the body is misleading as it experiences different sensations that force it to react in a certain manner. This premise is true since the human body reacts only to that which it experiences. On the other hand, the mind has the power to choose what it reacts to and in what way it does this. In the view of these arguments, I agree with Descartes that the mind is distinct and independent from the body.
Descartes explanations to this argument go deeper into explaining why he is a thinking thing. The first explanation that shows the independency of the mind is that when he is thinking, the mind is in existence while the body is not necessarily part of it. During the thinking process, a human being may or may not involve the body. However, the mind must be active in this process showing that it can exist even when the body is inactive (Descartes 50). Secondly, there is no evidence showing that the body has the ability to think. Nonetheless, most studies support the capabilities of the mind in the thinking process. This explains why the mind is active while thinking while the body is not. Thirdly, Descartes also argues that the body can be divided into separate parts but it is impossible to divide the mind. Descartes also argues that there are different ways to engage the mind. The first one is referred to as imagination whereby a person creates a mental picture. In this case, the mind is used to conjure images that may be real or unreal thus creating whatever pictures the body desires. On the other hand, the mind can be used for understanding, which is deeper than imaginations (Descartes 52). Here, a person uses their mind to picture something and feel it as if it were present in their minds. Subsequently, a person is able to understand things by using the mind in this manner.
From the arguments presented by Descartes, it is possible to understand why he thought of himself as a thinking thing. The power of a human being rests in how he uses his mind. Additionally, the body is important to a person but the works of the mind are more important. Through his arguments on the existence of God, the independence of one creation to another becomes clear. Objections to Descartes’ views base their arguments on how to prove the existence of God. However, as seen above, Descartes has proved this beyond doubt in the six meditations. Through the different premises, Descartes has successfully proven his point of view that the mind is independent from the body.
From the arguments presented by Descartes, it is clear that the mind is not similar to the body. They differ in their means of operations and the mind is capable of thinking effectively without involving the body. The mind is a powerful being as it can help enhance understanding for a human being. Subsequently, human beings are thinking things that possess the power of choice. Although the body and the mind work together on a number of operations, the mind continues to have power over the body. In conclusion, Descartes’ dissertation is correct as it emphasizes the distinction between the mind and the body.
Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy; Meditation #6 pages 47-59. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1993. Print.