The Conception of Substance Dualism

The Conception of Substance Dualism Rene Descartes, a 17th century French philosopher, created the idea of Substance dualism. Descartes states that the mind and the body are two separate entities that possess different characteristics. The mind, a theoretical substance, cannot be viewed in space as a material substance using tradition measuments such as height or weight. Because of this, only the physical body can be extended, not the mind, separating the two into the theory of substance dualism. Throughout the many Meditations, multiple concepts are introduced in order to prove this seemingly complex notion.

A principle that Descartes often employed and of great interest to me is that nothing can come from nothing and provides an excellent basis for the many ideas surrounding substance dualism. Descartes concluded that because no perfect idea can be created by something imperfect, the idea that an indefinitely perfect God exists must have been place in us by a perfect God. Descartes uses very complex and convincing arguments to prove the existence of God and the separation of mind and body. Cartesian theory essentially proves each sub-idea until the main idea is reached.

By using a step-by-step methodology for proving God’s existence and substance dualism, it is very difficult to find a flaw in his theories. Because nonexistence is an imperfection, God must exist because he has placed a perfect thought of him into us. This is Descartes first reasoning as to why God exists. Next Descartes says that because deception is an imperfection, God cannot be a deceiver, loosely disproving doubt of objects and surroundings. Descartes reasoning for separating mind and body is as follows.

He states that because I have a clear and distinct conception of myself as a thinking thing without extension, the mind cannot exist in space. Because he also recognizes the body however as having extension, It cannot be a res-cogitans. Despite his methodology, it is difficult to agree with Descartes on his theory of substance dualism. He connects each idea in a logical way, but the main picture seems too irrational. If the mind and the body are separate as he states using the theory of doubt, what is the agent of movement and extendibility for the body?

If the mind is not extendible, it seemingly cannot control the function of a body. Descartes states later on that the mind connects to the body through the Pineal gland. Most Cartesian theorists, refuse to accept this theory because it contradicts Descartes original theory of substance dualism. A non-extendable object cannot connect to an extendable one because Descartes argues that the mind is immeasurable in space. In addition, Descartes has no grounds to question the existence of his own body. According to him, Gods very existence proves his perfection.

A perfect God is incapable of deception meaning that all objects on earth exist, including our bodies. In conclusion, Descartes does an admirable job in creating a logical format that shows how God can exist. Furthermore, his belief that the mind and body are separate entities based on extension and thought makes sense until he questions the existence of our bodies. In doing this, Descartes is contradicting his original theory about deception and raises new questions. Descartes makes good arguments but is missing key concepts that cause his theory to ultimately fail.

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