Rene Descartes And Aristotle's Theory Of The Self

1049 Words 5 Pages
The question concerning what makes up the self is an ancient one. From Early philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, to modern philosophers such as Rene´ Descartes and David Hume as well as many others, that question is fundamental. Though several theories of what makes up the self exist, we find that one heavily argued theory is dualism. Hence, I will against Aristotle’s point of view of the self and dualism.
First, however, it is important to establish certain terms and their meaning in this context as used by Aristotle and the way they will be used for this argument. The first is “substance”. Aristotle defines substance in three ways: Matter, shape or form, or the compound, which makes the matter or form (Aristotle 90). “Matter”
…show more content…
For example, René Descartes seemingly, refutes Aristotle’s theory of unity with his own by suggesting that in the simple act of contemplating his own existence, there was proof of his existence as a self (Chase 31). Descartes takes it further by saying that the soul does not depend on any material thing” (31). So at the very least Descartes puts forth the idea of the consciousness’ ability to exist without any material being. This brings up the aspect of consciousness, which is an important aspect to be considered, which Aristotle does not seem to directly address. For example, what is to be said of the person that exists and its within the descriptions of a self such as having the ability to move, sense, and an incorporeal soul, as well as a mind but within the mind there are multiple persons or personalities (Chase 37)? Would Aristotle suggest that the mind and body are still one, though there are many within the mind? Or what about the issue with conjoined twins? This is the case where two minds share one body. Are they then to be said one “self” or soul when in fact there are two separate minds living within the one body (Kaveny …show more content…
Aristotle, set forth many great ideas and concepts on which modern philosophers base their own theories of the self upon. However due to the complexity of the subject, it is easy to find exceptions which rule out these theories. It is possible that we may never settle on a true and flawless definition of what it means to be a self. However, through René Descartes’ theory of the “Cogito”, there is enough that one can see that thought can exist without the corporeality of the body. For that reason, and even admissions by Aristotle himself, concerning contradictions concerning different aspects to the soul and mind, the idea that the soul and body are separate but important parts in their own way, is simpler to fathom than the theory of the soul and body being one as Aristotle

Related Documents