The Mechanical Character Of Descartes

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In order to understand the mechanical character of Descartes’ physiology it is necessary to establish, firstly, that he considers the human body as a material substance, different from the soul, though connected with it. This distinction has been called classically ‘dualism’. In his Meditations, Descartes argues that the meditator recognizes herself as a thinking substance: ‘But what am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, is willing, is unwilling, and also imagines and has sensory perceptions’ (AT VII 28). The strict definition of the subject in terms of thinking entails that its existence does not depend of its relation with a body: the soul is absolutely independent of the body and its …show more content…
Besides, Descartes claims that this personal body have some particular perception which are recognized by the mind as being felt on the very own body: pain and pleasure. Consequently, Descartes argues that the human body is intimately intermingled with the mind, and the production of knowledge concerning some elements of the physical world depends on the relationship between these elements. As it widely known, Descartes’ dualism carries out some serious epistemological problems that Descartes dealt with in his correspondence with the princess Elizabeth. However, for our actual purpose it is enough that Descartes argues that the human body shares its substance with other physical objects; i.e. that the human body is an extend substance. This position can be found, also, in Descartes’ Treatise on Man, where he claims: ‘I suppose the body to be nothing but a statue or machine made of earth, which God forms with the explicit intention of making it as much as possible like us’ (AT XI …show more content…
In The World, Descartes introduces a fable about the creation of the world where he exposes the similitude between God’s creative and preservation acts. Descartes begins considering the matter as devoid of all its secondary qualities: ‘let us expressly suppose that it [matter] does not have the form of earth, fire, or air, or any other more specific form, like that of wood, stone, or metal’ (AT XI 33). It is important to remark that these qualities correspond with the elemental qualities of the Aristotelian and alchemical traditions. Hence, Descartes claims that the only quality remaining in bodies is their extension, which is the only one we can conceive clear and distinctly. In the beginning, then, God created an indefinite extension of

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