Analysis Of Descartes Sixth Meditation

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The argument in Descartes’ Sixth Meditation for the real distinction between the mind and the body ultimately secures his dualist position. Despite his argument appearing to make some mildly questionable leaps and seemingly ignore one potentially devastating point altogether, his position is clear and strong. I will begin by reconstructing Descartes’ argument, cover the grievances listed above, and then hope to argue that, despite these objections, Descartes’ position remains a sound metaphysical view.
In the Sixth Meditation, Descartes begins by declaring that, firstly, all things one can clearly and distinctly perceive can be created by God, and secondly, if one can clearly and distinctly perceive one thing without calling to mind another,
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A foray into the field of medicine can provide us with a counterexample. I’ll provide two illustrative if not overly general examples: first, that of prosopagnosia, a condition where one cannot recognize or distinguish human faces, and second, that of aphantasia, a less studied condition where the mind cannot produce its own images. Bearers of these condition can still think, are justifiably conscious, and are even usually aware of their condition (as both conditions can be acquired). If so, then something as fundamental as producing mental images can no longer said to be essential to mind. One can imagine stripping the definition of mind down further and further in this fashion. At what point does this bared definition of mind lose the characteristics of being a thinking thing? Is it even possible to pin down the true essence of mind, given its seemingly modular nature? As a thinking thing, even if the processes behind my thoughts can be broken down into disparate parts, I feel as though I am one. However, the subjective feeling of unity among parts is not enough to characterize the nature of such a conglomerate of parts as singular. Take the example of a powerful ant colony. Viewed at the macro level, one might view the colony as a single organism responding to its environment and seemingly having particular goals. At the micro level, of course, we can see nothing but many single …show more content…
Elizabeth asks how the mind can interact with the body if it lies in a different realm of existence. No part of Descartes’ Meditations has a satisfying answer to how two distinct substances can casually affect one another. Elizabeth’s objection seems devastating at first but the problem it calls into question is not an error of logic from Descartes, but one of insufficient explanation. Descartes in his own rebuttal to her may utterly fail to explain the manner in which the mind interacts with the body despite them being separate substances; but this still does not present any logical error. The fact that the mechanism of the interaction is unknown doesn’t prevent them from interacting or existing as distinct. The mechanism in which the substances interact with other is outside the scope of Descartes’ argument, and therefore not his obligation to explore, or ours to

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