Substance Dualism By Rene Descartes

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Rene Descartes proposes a variant of substance dualism that maintains the equal and distinct existence of physical and mental substances. Descartes (1641) discusses that bodies are physical substances because they extend outward and occupy spatial regions while the human mind is a mental substance because it cannot extend through space (P.165). Descartes also notes fundamental differences on their activities; the human body is passive because it cannot think while the mind can handle complex mental processes and actively conjure original ideas (P.166). Despite the differences, the separation is still functional because the two substances connect in a strong relationship to account for causal interactions (P.168). As a result, under the assumption that the human body and the human …show more content…
Descartes observes that the human body functions as physically divided appendages connected through a biological relationship (P.172-173). In addition, the human body dedicates specific organs to handle biological processes, while one mind handles all the facets of will and understanding (P.172). Since the human mind is immaterial however, it retains its complete form even if the material parts of the body are detached from one another (P.172). Since only the physical body operates as the unity of different organs, Descartes argues that the body should not be classified together with the mind. The argument for substance dualism is persuasive because it lays down clear differences that can be easily agreed upon provided that meditators use reason properly. Since Descartes observed the critical differences through pure intellection, anyone that utilizes the same method should reach the same conclusions. Clearly, physical substances occupy space by necessity since they have material forms, while mental substances cannot extend beyond the individual’s cognition. Since only physical substances have physical constitutions, it also follows that only physical substances can be divided into

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