How Successful Are Descartes' Arguments for the Real Distinction of Mind from Body? Essay

Words: 1652
Pages: 7

How successful are Descartes' arguments for the real distinction of mind from body? Upon which problem would you put the most weight?

Descartes says the mind is distinct from the body, or anything physical for that matter. He says, a thinking substance is nonphysical or spiritual in nature (mind), and an extended substance is physical, but not capable of consciousness or thought (body). However, this very claim is also his biggest problem as his mind – body interaction has many critics and to some, can seem invalid. This is mainly due to the challenge by those who ask how mind and body can interact if they are two different substances altogether. Over Descartes' period of teaching, he has conceived many arguments to support his view of
…show more content…
Descartes' Mind – body interaction theory is clearly his biggest problem for his arguments and has many critics.
Locke argues that when we are asleep, unconscious or under anesthesia, our minds and awareness is cut off. Therefore Locke argues that the mind cannot have thought as its essence if it discontinues it during intervals of sleep or for any other reason. However, other philosophers and dualists have said the mind has both conscious and unconscious thoughts and that Locke's argument shows only that the mind is not always engaged in conscious reflection, though it may be occupied at the unconscious level. It has also been said that the soul always thinks, but that the memory fails to preserve those thoughts when asleep. In turn, Locke has also argued that he is not convinced that our thoughts are occupied for several hours when we sleep without our knowing.

Descartes also argued that we are spirits occupying these bodies which are made up of extended substances. However, we must remember that our mind and bodies do have a more important relationship then that. Descartes talks that we are not passengers of our bodies like passengers of a ship. We feel pain when the body is struck and are aware of this through our mental awareness unlike a passenger of a ship only knowing it is damaged through simply looking at the damage itself. Our mind and bodies do