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The Mind and Body Distinction in Rene Descartes Philosophical Viewpoint

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Descartes stated that he clearly understood his existence as a thinking thing which does not necessarily require a boy in order to function. He explained that God can create a thinking thing that is independent of a body. Descartes argued that he clearly understood the existence of his body as an extended thing, which is independent of the mind. This argument led to a conclusion that if God can create a mind that is independent of the body, then the two substances are essentially different from each other and two different realities (Rozemond, 2006).

The fact that Descartes is able to think that he can exist without his body can also be a proof for the distinction between mind and body. Following this argument, Descartes was able to conclude that there are three main types of reality; God, Mind and material things. God represents infinite reality while both the mind and material things represent finite reality (Rozemond, 2006). Descartes’ distinction of mind and body is grounded on the principle that if two or more things are the same, they should have the same properties.

This principle was later on expanded by subsequent philosophers such as Leibniz. Descartes was able to prove that mind and body do not share any properties thereby leading to a conclusion that they are distinct realities. While the body is extended into space, the mind is not. He also argued that one cannot be sure whether his body exists or not, but one could never doubt that their mind exists (Rozemond, 2006). This is a distinction from the knowledge that claims that since cannot have full knowledge of the existence of their own bodies, while the same cannot be said of the mind, the two elements are distinct from each other.

It is easy for one to be deceived about the existence of his or her body through the magic that creates a different perception. It is not possible to doubt the existence of one’ s mind as a thinking being (Rozemond, 2006). Descartes also described the human body as working like a machine.

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