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Free «The Mind-Body Relationship» Essay Sample

Rene Descartes was a great philosopher and a mathematician. He was born in 1956. He came up with a clear explanation of the mind and body relationship. He did many meditations that aimed at giving more explanations to support his theories. Many philosophers accepted his work, though he, at times, faced opposition. While being in his meditations, a sharp idea struck him. The idea was about a sharp contrast between the certainty and the oppositional nature of philosophy.

In this contrast, he came up with a discussion of the metaphysical split between mind and body. His first articulation of mind and body relationship was at eliciting the pronunciations of the late thinkers.  He also aimed at explaining the relationship between thinking and movement. This study enabled other researchers to clearly get support on various fields. “The mind-body relationship has a pre-theoretic conception”. Mental causation causes big contributions to the mind-body problems. Most philosophers believe that the notion of psychological explanation usually turns on the intelligibility of mental causations. Once the mind and its states are isolated from one’s bodily behavior, whatever goes on in a person’s mind would not explain whatever he/she does (William Barrett, 213).

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Philosophers give a solution to the problem when mental causation puzzles about the mind’s casual relevance to human behavior. Rene Descartes sets up an agenda for discussing the mind- body relationship. He insists that mind and body are very distinct kinds of substances. He extended his research by saying that bodies are spatially extended substances. He said that body was incapable of thought or feeling. In contrast to this, he claimed that minds are non-extended thinking and feeling substances. Therefore, “if mind and body are very different, hence it is not easy to see how they could interact”. He concluded that the mind did not control the body and the movement. This brings out a question of what causes body movement.

Many scientists oppose his efforts since mind has great impact on the movement. In fact, one has to decide on the next move whenever the need arises. His efforts faced objections since one must fully involve the mind in movements.  Metaphysical certainty is a term used by many philosophers to describe the highest degree of certainty that human beings can attain. Virtual certainty could also mean the same as this term. Descartes’ idea is that any system has a metaphysical certainty and is based on premises given to everyone through the light of nature. (Oliver  Wendell Holmes, 211).This means we would have to exclude things regardless of how psychologically certain we are about them, and the extravagance they are in case they not freely given up by nature.

One of Descartes conclusion on the light of nature is Cogito of “I think, therefore I exist”. He believes that through the light of nature he exists hence not doubted. The phrase that cannot be doubted makes it metaphysically and epistemologically certain. He also points out that a  thinking being also contains God’s attribute by the light of nature.  He does not think of the moral and metaphysical certainty the way other philosophers do. He does not think of moral certainty as the certainty possessed by propositions. In his first meditation, he takes the propositions that he has - a body and some mathematical truths, all to be moral certainties. In his fourth and fifth meditations, he includes the same propositions similar to his list of the metaphysical certainties. He had enough evidence to make other philosophers believe that the only things that existed were the metaphysical certainties.

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The same propositions were of metaphysical certainties as long as the evidence is strong enough to make people believe maximally from the standard perspective of Rene Descartes. He thus views that Cogito approach is a great proof of the soul. In his researches, “he meant to expound on the Cogito aspect and roles”. His position however is defensible. He has all his supporting tactics which enables him to defend his theories. He did not possess the same faith as Christians did. His studies were against Christian practices.     

He faced opposition but his opponents failed to realize the defense mechanism in him. Blaise Pascal was one of the opponents (Persian Proverb, 25). He argued that Descartes always opposed God. This is true since he meant that God had little effect on the natural movement and behavior. However, this opposition was of minimal effects since he used high defensive techniques to defend his works. In his books of namely Passions of the Soul and The Description of the Human Body, he argued that the body works similar to a machine that is of material properties. He described that the mind and the body is non-material and fails in following nature law. He said that the pineal gland helps body and mind to interact. Thus, the dualism supports the fact that the body is controlled by the mind. The body can also control the otherwise rational mind which is only possible in rare cases of fast reactions. The previous relation between mind and the body has been unidirectional (Chalmers & David, 57).

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He suggested that this gland is at times “the seat of the soul” due to many reasons. “To start with, the soul is unitary unlike many other areas of the brain; the pineal gland thus is unitary”. Second, Rene observed that the gland is near the ventricles. He also believed that the cerebrospinal fluid associated with the ventricles acted through the help of the nerves in controlling the body, thus the pineal gland also controlled the process. His sources proved that he denied the fact that animals felt pain and therefore used them without much concern. He denied that animals had intelligence and had no sensations. (Jonathan Bennett, 44). This was highly objected by other philosophers since the animals were also similar to human beings in terms of sensory glands and the reflex actions involved. This formed the basis of opposing Descartes in addition to the Christian criticism.

Pierre Gassendi was a French philosopher, a priest, a scientist, an astronomer and a great mathematician. He held a church position in Paris where he was also a leader of a big group of freethinking intellectuals. He published his first data about scientific study on the transit of Mercury. He wrote many philosophical articles. He clashed on Descartes on the possibility of certain knowledge. He argued with the theories that Descartes developed. This was so because he highly upheld and understood the Christian faith as opposed to Rene Descartes (Woody Allen, 66). Gassendi had a direct conflict with Descartes over the meditations. “Gassendi had anti-Cartesian views that were presented as a prism”. This helped him best perceive the spectrum of his view as compared to those of Descartes. There is an undoubted case that is to be made on Gassendi efforts aimed at representing the most prominent alternative to Descartes’ efforts. However, Gassendi deserves no more than a footnote status and an emphasis. He has totally objected the efforts of Rene. 

Thomas Hobbes was also a famous political philosopher and a great thinker in various fields. He defended the materialist and empirical views against the Cartesian and the Aristotelian views. He joined hands with Gassendi in order to object Descartes’ efforts. He also had many interactions with Descartes. He published a document, Descartes’ Discourse and Optics, objecting Descartes theories. The publications also included the Descartes meditations. Thus, he was fully against about everything that Rene developed. Descartes also worried that Hobbes was “aiming to make his reputation at my expense, and by devious means” (Descartes 1641b, 100).

Descartes would have answered to these objections by standing firm on his theories. We can support making his argument more strong by creating a social network to enable other people understand it better. We can all stick to these arguments and create conclusions that are more positive. There is also a great compelling force for the Cogito and mind/body dualism (Persian Proverb, 119). This is because of the relationship between the mind and the body. In my view, the aim of the case is to expound on the works of Rene Descartes. These efforts are all to justify the fact that Rene’s works of philosophy are still applicable as they have been before despite the objections.

The question of how thinking and other body actions relate is quite difficult to handle. Many scientists will be in argument with the philosophers. They maintain their arguments on researches physically carried out on human beings while philosophers base their arguments on beliefs and continuous study of human behavior. (Searle, John, 78). Scientists have proven these assumptions as misleading.  One cannot walk or breathe without thinking. The mind must set one reaction in case of necessity. This has always been against the philosophers. In addition to these, an individual can think without necessarily moving, breathing or doing anything.  These questions however are for the philosophers and scientists to come up with the right answers. They will leave many students more confused instead, if attempted to tackle them.


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