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Descartes On Mind And Body


Descartes dual key project marks two aims. The principal is the separation of the body and the mind. The second is the incorporation into a human being. The demands –separation yet integration seem to make the project impossible. As often, Descartes himself best pronounces the project and the challenge facing it. In his fourth replies, his response to Arnauld, he expresses his project the dual key project and the problem.

The idea of the successfully splitting mind and the body that is, when we place them together again to form a single man, we no longer get a real, natural unity- a full-blooded human subject. Descartes calls it a mere “unity of composition” an artificial compound. Thus, we have the “prove too much” horn. To modify things, we might start by carefully shielding the primarily of the full human being. But then whatever separation-in-our-conception we award mind and body, it is not enough to establish, our conception aside, as distinct, complete subjects, each of which can exist without the other. Thus, we have the “prove too little” horn of the dilemma.


Descartes argues for the real distinction, and we will expound his way of integrating mind and body into a single real man. When we speak of the real distinction between mind and body, we must keep in mind two observations. The first concerns the nature of the intended relation-real distinction; the second, the character of the purported relation. Regarding the first difference and following Descartes, we will gloss “x and y are distinct” as “x and y are substances and x and y can exist without each other.” In without each other” will be taken “weakly” that ¡s, it is enough that at least one of x and y can exist without the other.


What is more, we need to be intentionally primitive about the “can” in “can exist without the other.” Today many readings offer very sophisticated senses of this “can.” Reference is made to “epistemic,” “logical,” and “metaphysical” brands of possibility as if such technical notions were as old as the hills. The language of “possible worlds” is invoked, and it is true “there is some possible world where the mind exists without a body.” More, much of the sophistication of modern studies of modal logic and its model theory (semantics). Shows in analyses of Descartes. I want us to regain our innocence. Descartes' “can” is just the “can” of the vernacular. Whether it means an “epistemic”.

 
 

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