Advantages And Disadvantages Of Descartes Dualism

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Descartes’s dualism was a critical development in the philosophy of minds. The goal of this paper will be examining this theory, its strengths, and its weaknesses. First, we will summarize Descartes’s classical dualism, which will be the version of dualism referred to throughout the rest of the paper. Second, we will examine several arguments in favor of classical dualism. The third segment of this essay will discuss some of the challenges and counter arguments to dualism. Then, concluding with my own thoughts on classical dualism. Classical dualism has one fundamental tenet: the mind and the body are separate. The body consists of physical material; it takes up space, can be seen, and interacted with by other physical objects. On the other …show more content…
Indeed, two primary objections have been raised in response to the theory of classical dualism. Foremost among them is the question of causation. Originally, this question was fielded by Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. The argument is as follows; if the mind is intangible and not related to any part of the body, then an activity in the mind could not cause changes in the body. For example, a person could not have the idea to do something such as write a letter, and then physically go write that exact letter. Given the number of letter that have been written, this appears to be a flaw in dualism. Descartes responded to Princess Elisabeth’s question by conceding the point that the mind must interact with some part of the body. Specifically, Descartes claim the pineal gland was responsible for this mind and body connection. His compatriots of philosophy, Princess Elisabeth included, did not find this answer satisfactory and knowledge of human anatomy concurs that the pineal gland has no special ability to interact with an intangible …show more content…
Assuming Descartes’s assertion about the pineal gland is true, this does not explain how this transference between the mind and the body functions. If the mind is truly immaterial then it is incapable of forcing the body into motion. Additionally, this problem works both ways. For example, alcohol can impair the judgement of a thinking mind, but if the mind is immaterial then it should be beyond the influence of intoxication. Either, Descartes must concede the minds status as intangible, or that any one part of the body can interact with the mind through some undefined quality. In the case of the later, Descartes’s theory will fall victim to the argument given previously. With all of this in mind I will now touch briefly on my own thoughts on classical dualism. From my perspective, Descartes’s theory has a critical flaw in its foundation. This being, the existence of something that is immaterial and invisible to all physical observations. Any theory that creates an entirely new form of matter that is beyond human observation, because it makes the theory work, is always highly suspect to me. Just because a philosopher can postulate the existence of unobservable evidence, does not mean they should. Nor should the build an entire theory on such a

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