Why was Descartes a dualist about mind and body? Was he right to be?
Can the mind (or the soul) exist without the body? If it can, how is that possible? Is there something extra beyond the merely physical world and if yes, what could that be? Rene Descartes thought so and he was a dualist. Why was he a dualist and was he right in being one? In this essay, I will explain reasons why he was a dualist, what that means and where that view leads us.
Descartes was the one who argued that we should doubt everything that we could. He came to the conclusion that we can doubt everything but not that we exist: there must be at least the one who doubts – the thinking thing. In other words: we can doubt that our body exists but not that our mind exists. Is it that way? Can we doubt that our body does not exist but our mind does? If we doubted the existence of our body, where then, would our mind exist? It could be that there is'the malicious demon' which is cheating us (our mind) to think that we have a body or feelings and that we know (learn) things, but all what we really are, the brains (the mind) lies in a glass bowl in the laboratory. If that is true (if the demon exists) there must be at least one who is cheating. Descartes' argued that, if I think, at least I, the mind, the thinking thing, must exist.
Where does the thinking happen? One can argue that it happens in the brain: it is merely a physical action and there is no space for non-physical things. One can argue that there could still be a place for non-physical things: we do not know everything about the brain. One can say that our thoughts and all our actions are caused by God — that God causes everything. These days we know quite a lot already about how our brains work and everyday, scientist discover more. Am I only that which you cannot see: thoughts?
According to Dualistic thinking, there is something extra beyond the merely physical and the Idealis…