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This year’s Presidential race is certainly one of the most dramatic in recent memory. Descartes's division of the universe into minds and bodies is appealing on many levels-including emotional levels. The real distinction of mind and body based on their completely diverse natures is the root of the famous mind-body problem: how can these two substances with completely different natures causally interact so as to give rise to a human being capable of having voluntary bodily motions and sensations? The consequences of this problem are very serious for Descartes, because it undermines his claim to have a clear and distinct understanding of the mind without the body. The Nation magazine; and Journalism Fellowships that fund over 20 high-profile reporters every year.
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Since almost everyone believes that our thoughts are somehow unique to us as individuals and form part of our personal identity, Descartes seems to suggest that our minds can continue to exist even when our bodies disintegrate. Although several versions of this problem have arisen over the years, this section will be exclusively devoted to the version of it Descartes confronted as expressed by Pierre Gassendi, the author of the Fifth Objections, and Descartes' correspondent, Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia. Take for example a voluntary choice, or willing, to raise one's hand in class to ask a question.
For humans do have sensations and voluntarily move some of their bodily limbs and, if Gassendi and Elizabeth are correct, this requires a surface and contact. Always support your claims with reasons and let evidence guide your reasoning rather than a presupposed conclusion. The Institute is a 501(c) (3) public foundation, donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent provided by law.
Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Their concern arises from the claim at the heart of the real distinction argument that mind and body are completely different or opposite things.
Since the mind must have a surface and a capacity for motion, the mind must also be extended and, therefore, mind and body are not completely different.
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If you have any questions, or would like other donation options, visit our donate page or contact us at (212) 822-0252. By assigning a position of primary importance to what remains when all that is secondary has been removed, philosophy thus becomes the true index of priority or emphasis in the realm of speculative thought.
As appealing as this is on an emotional level it does have some serious philosophical problems.

But this is a conclusion that must be supported with many reasons and is certainly not a starting point for a philosophical discussion. But willing is a mode of the non-extended mind alone, whereas the arm's motion is a mode of the extended body alone: how can the non-extended mind bring about this extended effect?
Historically the most difficult problem-which literally took Descartes to his grave-is the problem of mind-body interaction. Hence, Descartes has not adequately established that mind and body are two really distinct substances. The problem runs as follows: If minds are ontologically distinct from bodies then how does a mind interact with a body, and how does a body interact with the mind?
The crux of their concern was that in order for one thing to cause motion in another, they must come into contact with one another as, for example, in the game of pool the cue ball must be in motion and come into contact with the eight-ball in order for the latter to be set in motion. The problem is that, in the case of voluntarily bodily movements, contact between mind and body would be impossible given the mind's non-extended nature. On the other hand if I smash my finger with a hammer this causes pain which is in the realm of the mind.
This is because contact must be between two surfaces, but surface is a mode of body, as stated at Principles of Philosophy part II, section 15.
Accordingly, the mind does not have a surface that can come into contact with the body and cause it to move. So, it seems that if mind and body are completely different, there is no intelligible explanation of voluntary bodily movement.

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