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Descartes: difference between thoughts and physical things?

1.In what ways do minds and thoughts differ from physical things, according to Descartes?

Descartes claimed that the mind and thoughts existed separately from the body. He claimed that thoughts were more "real" than the body. Notice his famous quote, "I think therefore I am." He does not say "I have a physical body therefore I am." Another point made by Descartes is that only the mind can truly grasp the concept of something. Senses such as sight and touch can give a partial picture but only the mind analyzes something completely.
Descartes described physical things such as the body as machines. Physical things are bound to function within the laws of physics. They are subject to heat, cold and gravity. Because they are bound by physical laws and subject to change Descartes claimed they could not be considered true or reliable. The mind on the other hand is boundless. It is not subject to the laws of physics therefore thoughts and the mind are reliable, real and true.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/

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1.In what ways do minds and thoughts differ from physical things, according to Descartes?

Descartes claimed that the mind and thoughts existed separately from the body. He claimed that thoughts were more "real" than the body. Notice his famous quote, "I think therefore I am." He does not say "I have a physical body therefore I am." Another point made by Descartes is that only the mind can truly grasp the concept of something. Senses such as sight and touch can give a partial picture but only the mind analyzes something completely.
Descartes described physical things such as the body as machines. Physical things are bound to function within the laws of physics. They are subject to heat, cold and gravity. Because they are bound by physical laws and subject to change Descartes claimed they could not be considered true or reliable. The mind on the other hand is boundless. It is not subject to the laws of physics therefore thoughts and the mind are reliable, real and true.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/

2.How does Descartes use the differences between humans and animals and machines to make the case for dualism?

Descartes claims that humans are aware of their own existence while animals are not. Additionally humans receive insight and thoughts from God while animals exist purely on instinct. Just as machines need to be controlled by a thinking person, so a person's body must be controlled by a thinking mind. Descartes claimed that the body in and of itself is simply a machine. The body, like any physical object is limited by the laws of physics however the mind is not. Since the mind is not limited by physics while the body is, they must not be one and the same thing. Therefore dualism must be the true nature of the mind/body relationship. An interesting result of Descartes' theory that animals do not possess a mind is that they therefore can ...

Solution Summary

This is a discussion regarding the philosophical theories of Descartes. Specifically the differences he claimed to exist between thoughts and minds versus physical objects. Also included are Locke's ideas about morality and legality. Over 1200 words of original text along with links to informative websites.

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