How the Application of Pure Reason Shows the Superiority of the Understanding of Our Minds
In his Meditations I and II the arguments made by Rene Descartes lead him to the conclusion that the human mind is better known than the body. I will defend Descartes argument of the human mind being better known than the body by proving that the senses of the body possess the capability of being deceptive, that the existence of the mind is impossible to doubt, and that the only effective way to achieve absolute certainty and acquire firm and lasting knowledge is through the application of pure reason, which is something that is facilitated by the human mind alone. These reasons help justify Descartes argument of the mind being better known than the body, and also prove that the human mind is much more efficient than the human body in the grasping of knowledge.
As Rene Descartes (1641) once did, it may be viable for one to believe that certain knowledge can be “learned either from the senses or through the senses.”(p.136). Descartes explains how frequently people rely on the use of their senses. However I believe that our senses possess the capability of deceiving us. Our senses may perceive something that is completely different from what is actually occurring. For example “my senses may deceive me about what is small or far away”. (p.137). Take the moon for instance, the moon is incredibly large in size, but due to the fact that it is located hundreds of thousands of miles away from the earth, our eyes perceive the moon to be smaller than it actually is. The fact that sensory information can be deceptive supports the Descartes argument of the mind being better known than the body because sensory information is often unreliable.
Although Descartes claims that his senses have deceived him and that he cannot trust his senses, he makes the argument that due to the very fact that he has been deceived proves that he exists. I agree with Descartes argument and I defend it by asserting that any state of thinking can make a person’s existence known, whether it is imagining, feeling, reasoning, interpreting, or making judgments and perceptions. Thus, Descartes (1641) concluded, “that the statement “I am,
I exist” must be true whenever I mentally consider it.”(p.139). Descartes (1641) then goes on to try to “fully understand what this “I” is that must now exist.”(p.139). Since the senses can be deceiving and cannot be trusted this “I” is not a body or any physical object. This “I” Descartes sought to understand must be indubitable because he declared that he “will reject whatever is open to the slightest doubt”. (p.138). Descartes (1641) then explains that, “There is thinking, and thought alone cannot be taken away from me.”(p.139). Being that thought is unalienable, it is therefore indubitable. Since the certainty of one’s existence is to the extent that they are thinking, the only knowledge they have of their existence is as a thinking thing. This proves that the existence of the mind is absolutely certain. The body however does not hold this certainty due to the fact the senses of the body can be doubted. This proves to show that the mind is indeed better known than the body.
In Meditations II Descartes further demonstrated why the mind is better known than the body in his famous wax argument in which he explained how as a piece of wax melts, every property of the wax changes in which our senses perceive it. Descartes (1641) explains how as the wax melts, “it loses what was left of its taste; it gives up its smell; it changes color; it loses its shape; it gets bigger; it melts; it heats up; it becomes difficult to touch; it no longer…