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Descartes' views on mind, body and substance dualism

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  1. Introduction
  2. Mind as mental substance
  3. Method of conceiving the mind and body
  4. The faculty of imagination
  5. Differing essences of the mind and body
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

French philosopher Descartes makes it very clear, when making the comparison between body and mind, two substances which he calls the ?thinking thing' (res cogitans) and the ?extended thing' (res extensa), that these two parts of the human experience are very different. In this sense, we cannot, according to Descartes, assume that they are created of the same substances. Mind and body, in his view, are separate. This viewpoint is based on the observation that the body is composed of matter. Matter can be described. It has measurable qualities, dimensions, and tangibly experienced through the five senses. Mind, in the other hand, has the opposite qualities. It cannot be seen, it has no physical dimensions. It is unchanging, and yet at the same time without limit.

[...] Through this process of looking into his own imagination, he found that there must be an actual physical, tangible truth, an ultimate reality composed of real objects that are different than the ones imagined. From there, he goes on to assume that the difference between mind essence and body essence is great, if not, he would have been able to possess the real object exactly as it is, within the imagination faculty of his minds eye. To further arrive at the conclusion of the differing essences of the mind and body, Descartes has to assume that the mind is not divisible, but the body is divisible. [...]


[...] Descartes' views on mind, body and substance dualism French philosopher Descartes makes it very clear, when making the comparison between body and mind, two substances which he calls the ?thinking thing' (res cogitans) and the ?extended thing' (res extensa), that these two parts of the human experience are very different. In this sense, we cannot, according to Descartes, assume that they are created of the same substances. Mind and body, in his view, are separate. This viewpoint is based on the observation that the body is composed of matter. [...]

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