Reading Response #1
Minnesota State University, Mankato
In Descartes’ Second Meditation he
claims that the mind is better than the body. He supports this claim by arguing
what is certain, list’s his beliefs, doubts his certainties, and concludes what
he is. Descartes’ claim is likely to meet with criticism from those who object
that the mind is better than the body, but I will argue that Descartes can
defend his claim against this criticism by his arguments and the objections.
My position on this controversial
claim is that I agree with Descartes’ that the mind/soul is better than the
body. Logically, thinking the mind is in control of the actions of your body.
The body does not control the mind. Tonya Hines, CMI, of Mayfield Clinic states
on Mayfield Brain and Spine clinics website states, “The brain controls our
thoughts, memory and speech, movement of the arms and legs, and the function of
many organs within our body.” it is factual evidence that the mind is in
control. Being in an anatomy class I have learned about the parts of the brain:
Frontal Lobe, Temporal Lobe, Brain Stem, Cerebellum, Occipital Lobe, and
Parietal Lobe. Each of those parts controls a certain function in the body.
Also, the cranial nerves in the mind send signals to the spinal cord to
different parts of the body.
Descartes’ believes in Dualism as
referred to in the article website “Dualism”. According to the “Dualism”
article, Dualism is the belief that the mind, and the body are two separate
things. Dualism believes that the mind is a non-material thing, and the body is
a material thing. Dualists believe the mind has a spiritual attribute to it.
Als, according to the “Dualism” article, the opposite of Dualism
would be Materialism, believing that the mind, and the body are the same thing.
Dualism brings the consciousness to our mind because without dualism the mind
would not exist, and it would just be the physical brain. J. P. Moreland, PhD,
author and theologian has experienced when patients are clinically dead their
consciousness will separate from their body at death, and they will have the
viewpoint from above at their body. This is factual evidence that the mind is
in control and conscious.
In Descartes’ second Meditation, in “Meditations
on First Philosophy in which are demonstrated the existence of God and the
distinction between the human soul and body”, he questions himself on
what ‘I’ of ‘I exist’ even means. What makes up ‘I’ is it the mind or body?
Descartes’ writings constantly doubt himself to come up with the best
assumptions. He wonders if there is a God that makes his thoughts in his mind,
and if anything around him or himself even exists. Although he decides that if
it is himself who is thinking if he exists, it must be true it’s his mind
controlling who he is, and the ‘I’ is his mind/soul.
Descartes’ beliefs of the mind and
body supports evidence of his claim. He believes he has a body and has a
mind/soul. His definition of ‘Body’ in, Descartes Second Meditation (Page 5
Left column), Descartes explains, “Whatever has definite shape and position,
and can occupy a region of space in such away as to keep every other body out
of it; it can be perceived by touch, sight, hearing, taste, or smell, and can
be moved in various ways.” he; then, includes, “I would have added that a body
can’t start up movements by itself” with it given that the mind is in control
of the body it gives evidence that the mind is better than the body.
An opponent might be object along
the following lines in “Objections
to the Meditations and Descartes’ Replies” (page 86 right column) if
the mind is more important than the body how does every ‘body’ in nature
control itself when it doesn’t have a mind, such as the wind, fire, and water.
They would be immobile in the case that the mind controls the body, but they
are not immobile. In this case, the body is more important. We would suppose it
all has a ‘non-bodily’ source controlling it. How does wind, fire, and water
control itself. We would have to suppose there is a “non-bodily power of
movement.” Subject to a case of an objection in “Objections
to the Meditations and Descartes’ Replies” (Page 86 on the right
column). This makes the body better than the mind.
Though this objection might
initially seem compelling, it rests on a false assumption. Descartes’ insisted
that the mind is better than the body, in relation to “Objections
to the Meditations and Descartes’ Replies” (page 86 on the right
column), that its assumed to be along with, “getting on with everyday life and
investigating the truth,” Descartes’; also, states (page 87), “For example, I
can’t say ‘I am walking, therefore I exist’, except by adding to ‘my walking’
my awareness of walking, which is a thought.” It concludes a certain inference.
Finally, the concluded thought is
that the mind/soul is better than the body. There are strong objections that
doubt this conclusion but with the factual evidence and assumptions it is
strongly evident Descartes’ is correct in his thought. It is true through his
arguments, and the objections that to be a person you need your mind, in
Descartes’ words he states, “I am simply a thing that thinks” in his second
meditation in “Meditations on First Philosophy in
which are demonstrated the existence of God and the distinction between the
human soul and body”.
Descartes, R. (2004, July).
Meditations on First Philosophy in which are demonstrated the existence of God
and the distinction between the human soul and body (J. Bennett, Ed.).
Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1641.pdf
Descartes, R. (2006, July).
Objections to the Meditations and Descartes’s Replies (J. Bennett, Ed.).
Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1642.pdf
Dualism. (n.d.). Retrieved January
26, 2018, from https://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/dualism.htm
Hines, T. (2016, May). Anatomy of
the Brain. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from https://www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-AnatBrain.htm