Descartes

Descartes - Descartes Monday, March 12, 2007 12:41 PM...

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Descartes Monday, March 12, 2007 12:41 PM Questions to answer: What is radical skepticism? In contrast, radical forms of skepticism afflict most of our beliefs and thus pose, at least potentially, the most pressing philosophical challenge. Pasted from < http://www.iep.utm.edu/s/skepcont.htm What is substance dualism? Substance dualism is a type of dualism most famously defended by Descartes, which states that there are two fundamental kinds of substance: mental and material. The mental does not have extension in space, and the material cannot think. Substance dualism is important historically for having given rise to much thought regarding the famous mind-body problem. Substance dualism is a philosophical position compatible with most theologies which claim that immortal souls occupy an independent "realm" of existence distinct from that of the physical world. David Chalmers recently developed a thought experiment inspired by the movie The Matrix in which substance dualism could be true: Consider a computer simulation in which the bodies of the creatures are controlled by their minds and the minds remain strictly external to the simulation. The creatures can do all the science they want in the world, but they will never be able to figure out where their minds are, for they do not exist in their observable universe. This is a case of substance dualism with respect to computer simulation. This naturally differs from a computer simulation in which the minds are part of the simulation. In such a case, substance monism would be true. What is the mind-body relation for Descartes? In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes embarked upon a quest in which he called all his previous beliefs into doubt, in order to find out what he could be certain of. In doing so, he discovered that he could doubt whether he had a body (it could be that he was dreaming of it or that it was an illusion created by an evil demon), but he could not doubt whether he had a mind. This gave Descartes his first inkling that the mind and body
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were different things. The mind, according to Descartes, was a "thinking thing" (lat. res cogitans ), and an immaterial substance. This "thing" was the essence of himself, that which doubts, believes, hopes, and thinks. The distinction between mind and body is argued in Meditation VI as follows: I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as a thinking, non-extended thing, and a clear and distinct idea of body as an extended and non-thinking thing. Whatever I can conceive clearly and distinctly, God can so create. So, Descartes argues, the mind, a thinking thing, can exist apart from its
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course PHIL 1000 taught by Professor Crystal during the Spring '07 term at LSU.

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Descartes - Descartes Monday, March 12, 2007 12:41 PM...

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