In this paper, I will be discussing Rene Descartes Mind-Body Distinctions and its relevance to contemporary western society. In Descartes’s novel, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, he argues against his own methods of reasoning toward encountering difficult situations.
Descartes commences his discourse with the argument that one has the ability to differentiate truth from fiction, good sense, and through the use of this ability can one improve their average mind. However, one’s capability of good sense is clouded through education thus it is a necessity to study oneself. He then makes a new argument that science is flawed due to the many different individuals from various eras taking part into science. Henceforth, he eliminates all his wrong opinions that he had been obtaining through the many years and began using his new method. The new method in which he undertook was to present itself to my mind so clearly and so distinctly that I had no occasion to call it doubt, divide its difficulties into small simple parts, to start off from the simplest part than work up to the most difficult, and to build reasonings without leaving anything out. Descartes found this effective toward solving complex problem, however, because he still believed his own thoughts were in the way toward pure reasoning, he decided to exclusively use the method and eliminate all his wrong doings.
Descartes then rethinks his views, putting in a new moral code in which he will begin to live by. The first was to follow the laws and customs his own country and obey his own religion while not being too excessive on opinions. The second was to stick with his own decisions even when he doubts them. The third was to change himself and not the world, and the fourth was to observe all the occupations men have in this life, in order to choose the best one. He then claims the existence of the soul and God. Descartes states that we obtain the same thoughts awake as we are asleep, thus all things that come in to mind are nothing but illusions in one’s mind. However, he becomes aware that his thinking was the realization that there is proof of existence: I think, therefore I am. He then brings forth the ideology that the mind and body are distinct from each other and God is the ruler of all knowing. He believes that God is the creator of human intellect, thus God has the ability to change the outcome of one’s mind-body interaction to create sensations to the body. To give validation toward God being real and being the all knowing, he first examines his own mind to figure out what made him have the ability to make God up. Knowing that he himself is an finite being and God is the infinite and all powerful, he brings up reasoning that it is not possible for one to dream of infinity while being finite.
Rene Descartes belief of the distinctions between the mind and body play a big philosophical role toward contemporary western society. In Descartes’s beliefs, the body’s perception is deemed unreliable, and one’s reasonable mind will reveal the world’s true form. In western society, the emergence of virtual reality has challenged the mind and body relationship. Virtual reality is a complex interactive computer graphics generator consisting of sensor devices that enable the user to create either an utopian or dystopian environment. A person using the virtual reality equipment has the ability to interact into the artificial world such as moving, looking, and interacting with items the virtual world obtains. Now suppose the generated individuals in that utopian or dystopian environment are conscious. Assuming this, one may argue about the theory that our minds are stimulated by someone higher than us thus we are ordered to think but assume one is thinking independently. Henceforth, the only one who has the intelligence of doing such a thing is the all knowing and all powerful God.
Descartes acknowledges God as a substance that is infinite, ethernal, immutable, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created both myself and everything else. He then argues that God developed the rules of mind but not the body thus bodily interaction produce sensations for the good of the body. Furthermore, he continues that God created human beings with a goal in which to accomplish during one’s lifetime. In a virtual reality video game, the main character is given a backstory and a mission to which the player will try to accomplish. Now taken this into perspective, us individuals are the main characters (the body) and God is the player (the mind) in which he controls what and how we will accomplish our objective. This theory can be valid because no one has the capability of finding one’s objective in life, thus making Descartes theory about the mind and body being distinct to be valid.
Descartes argues that one has the ability to differentiate truth from fiction, thus through the use of this ability one has the capability of bettering their mind. This brings forth his introduction toward his ideology, that the mind and body are distinct from each other and God is the ruler of all knowing. He believes that God is real and is the ruler of all knowing because knowing that he himself is an finite being and God is the infinite and all powerful, thus it is not possible for one to dream of infinity while being finite. This discourse is relevant toward contemporary western society because of the correlation it has with the ideology that we are all living in a stimulation that is built by someone higher than us. This belief can be proven valid because we (the body) are the main characters and God (the mind) is the player of the game in which he knows our objective but we do not. This in result give us the conclusion that we are able to distinct between the mind and body.
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