René Descartes Meditations On First Philosophy

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In René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, the author aims to create an unshakable foundation of metaphysics for the sciences. In doing so, the work’s meditator comes to conclude that he is a thinking substance distinct from material substance, and thus all mental substances are independent of corporeal bodies. Central to how this view explains conscious experience of sensing and perceiving external bodies is the interaction between the mental substance of the mind and corporeal substance of the physical world. However, the ability for mental and material substances to interact with each serves as liability for the substance dualism as argued by Jerry Fodor, who questions that the ability of mental substance to affect material substance …show more content…
Nonetheless, the meditator ascertains an attribute that he cannot possibly bring into doubt, his thinking. The meditator reasons that thought is inseparable what he is essentially is and would not exist without the capacity of thought, which he concludes to be undeniably true. Considering the possibility that he is dreaming or being deceived, the meditator uses this to support his existence as there must be something to be deceived in the first place. From this he can conclude that he exists so long as he is currently engaged in thought. The meditator is assured of this conclusion because he denies that it is possible for an attribute (e.g. his thinking) to be without being tethered to some substance that exists in reality. Because the essence of the meditator is his thinking and does not involve any sort of extension into space, he can make the conclusion that his essence does not include material substance. Therefore, the meditator can infer that any mental substance is separate and independent of any material substance (Heil …show more content…
Presumably, Descartes would make a clarification regarding interaction of mental and physical substances. Specifically, he might clarify that mental substance directs physical interaction in a way that is consistent with our well-tested laws of physics. For example, various physical phenomena are dependent on chance and cannot accurately be predicted in every circumstance. This may leave some leeway for Descartes to argue that because these phenomena do not have a clear and direct physical cause but agree with the well-established laws of science, there could possibly be circumstances where mental substance can conceivably interact with physical matter. Since there are situations where physical causes may not be the sole reason for a phenomenon, Descartes may have some room to argue that mental substance can influence physical

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