Sacramento City College Descartes Sixth Meditation Quiz

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  1. In Meditation Six, Descartes reaches the conclusion that “I am really distinct from my body, and can exist without it” (AT 78). What considerations convince him of this? (AT 78)
  2. In Meditation Six, Descartes reaches the conclusion that corporeal things exist. What considerations convince him of this? (AT 79-80)
  3. Descartes says that “I and the body constitute one single thing” (AT 81). What does this mean, and what convinces him of it? (AT 81)
  4. At the conclusion of Meditation Six, Descartes claims that the difficulty in distinguishing being asleep from being awake should now be rejected (AT 89). What reasons does he give for this rejection? (AT 89-90)

Sixth Meditation
Sixth Meditation
Based on Descartes’s arguments, the body and mind are two substances that are
independent in such a way that they can exist without each other. Notably, the body and mind are
completely distinct, they can be a single thing thanks to the causal relationship between them
(Thibaut, 2018). According to Descartes, the causal relationship between the body and mind can
be categorized into mind-to-body causation and body-to-mind causation. When it comes to the
body-to-mind causation, any destruction to the body inflicts pain. Likewise, the mind-to-body
causation for instance could facilitate the urge to take coffee. The need to have coffee is
triggered by the brain and forces an individual to stand up and get the drink from a coffee pot.
The mind is distinct from the body because of several reasons. God created things that
can be clearly and distinctly perceived. If things are independent of one another, then it means
that they are distinct. A thinking thing therefore can clearly and distinctly exist without
necessarily requiring the body for existence. The body on the other hand can be said to be an
extended thing and does not need the mind for existence. This implies that the body was created
independently of a mind and the mind was created independently of a body. So it can be deduced
that a body is not required for a thinking thing to exist and the body is a reality distinct from the
Further, the causal relationship between mind and body is of an intimate and very special
kind. They are not like the connections that exist between a vessel and the sailor though the two
like the mind and body, operate in causal relationships. The relationship between the mind and
body is intermingled. However, the body is not identical to any mind. Notably, minds lack
extension whereas the bodies have extensions. This, therefore, implies that there is no existence
of mind in space (Curley, 2015). Whatever the case, the body and mind can be a single thing
since the mind can trigger effects on the body and the body can affect the mind.
Borrowing from a dualism point of perspective, the bodies and mind are two different
things and not one. Descartes argues that the mind and body are two clear and distinct
substances. This, therefore, means that if the body and mind are distinct, then they can be
separated. The physical body cannot be separated from the nonmaterial soul or thinking. The
nonmaterial part, which happens to be the mind is independent of the physical laws related to the
body and nature (Heinämaa & Kaitaro, 2018). However, the body is not independent of the laws
of nature. In other words, the physical body can be subjected to death but the mind cannot be
impacted by death.
Apart from what is discussed above, the imagination is not essentially part of the mind.
The imagination must be dependent on something else to exist other than the mind. It would
therefore be worth arguing that imagination is linked to the body. This connection enables the
mind to capture corporeal objects. The mind connects to the body through imagination. The body
in this context experiences hunger, emotion, pain, pleasure among others. The body can also
detect other bodies with taste, smell, color, heat, hardness, movement, shape, and extension.
Considering this, all these perceptions do not emanate from an outside source but come from the
Curley, E. (2015). Descartes on the Mind-Body Union: A Different Kind of Dualism.
Heinämaa, S., & Kaitaro, T. (2018). Descartes’ Notion of the Mind-Body Union and its
Phenomenological Expositions. In The Oxford handbook of the history of
phenomenology (p. 25). Oxford University Press.
Thibaut, F. (2018). The mind-body Cartesian dualism and psychiatry. Dialogues in clinical
neuroscience, 20(1), 3.

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