r that I have abided by the Stevens Honor System
HPL 111 Professor Freid
April 9, 2008
Descartes – The Mind/Body Problem
In the famous words of the great French philosopher, Rene Descartes, “I think therefore, I
am. “ Such an obscure statement enabled Descartes to understand his own existence by
questioning what defines human existence. The notion of questioning one’s existence, according
to Descartes, efficiently proves that a person exists - if there is doubt, someone or something
must be doing the doubting. Therefore the act of doubting confirms a person’s existence.
However, the mere action of doubt cannot possibly determine one’s existence, or, for that matter,
what one’s existence truly exemplifies. In Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy”, he
questions human existence. He felt that the mind was separate from the body, and the mind’s use
of senses helped to perceive one’s existence.
The body, according to Descartes, is the physical
representation of one’s existence through the senses that the mind perceives. Descartes’
questioning of the mind and body’s existence as separate entities has come to be known as the
Mind/Body problem. Descartes’ theories justify the fact that the true existence of “something”
occurs as a component of the mind, independent of the body, while ignoring the fact that at one
point in time, existence can occur through the intermingling of the mind and body.
In order to comprehend Descartes’ Mind and Body problem, one must understand both
entities in question – the body and the mind. The body, as common knowledge dictates, is
understood as the physical aspect to “something”—may it be a person place or thing. When one
imagines a body, one considers the size, the texture, the shape, the color, the smell, the taste, etc.
of this specific “something”. Regardless of how the action of “something” is performed, its