Descartes's Theory of Mind by Desmond Clarke

By Desmond Clarke

Descartes is most likely the main recognized of all writers at the brain, yet his thought of brain has been virtually universally misunderstood, simply because his philosophy has now not been obvious within the context of his medical paintings. Desmond Clarke deals an intensive and convincing rereading, undoing the got notion of Descartes because the leader defender of mind/body dualism. For Clarke, the hot button is to interpret his philosophical efforts as an try and reconcile his medical goals with the theologically orthodox perspectives of his time.

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M. ). This might seem like a misguided concession by Descartes simply to appease an importunate royal correspondent who could not easily be ignored or dismissed. But Descartes goes on to explain that metaphysical thoughts are likely to mislead us when we conceive of the unity of the human being, and they may be responsible for obfuscating rather than clarifying ‘the notion we have of the union of mind and body’. The reason is that we find it difficult to conceive ‘very ²⁴ The conceptual confusion involved in the analogy between gravity and the soul’s power to move the body is found in vii.

There are very few such notions. For apart from the most general notions of being, number, duration, etc. which apply to everything that we can conceive, we have only the notion of extension that is specifically for the body, and from that follow the notions of shape and movement; and for the soul on its own we have only the concept of thought, which includes perceptions of the understanding and inclinations of the will. Finally, for the soul and body together, we have only the concept of their union, on which depends the notion of the soul’s power to move the body and the body’s power to act on the soul by causing its sensations and passions.

Her correspondence with Descartes provided confirmation of the problems that arise when one deviates from the criteria for what counts as a viable explanation and reverts to the discredited language of the schools. ²² It seems as if every determination of movement results from the following three factors: the pushing of the thing that is moved, the manner in which it is pushed by the body that moves it, and the quality and shape of the latter’s surface. The first two presuppose that the bodies touch, while the third presupposes extension.

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