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A Look at The Dualism Concept Between The Body and Soul as Depicted in Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes

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Body and Soul

Rene Descartes presents in his Meditations on First Philosophy the idea of dualism, the belief that the body and the soul exist separately from each other. Physical human bodies are composed of cells, tissue, blood, organs, skin, a brain and the like. From the brain, humans have thought. The mental capacity to think is what creates human personality and allows humans to reason and form ideas. The question of whether or not the body and soul are separated or not is a vital philosophical question, especially to Descartes as he grapples with meditation and the feeling that nothing is real or certain. This leads him to question his own existence and who he is. In this paper, I will argue against Descartes’s belief on dualism as the body requires the soul to live. The soul and body are tied together in order to grant humans the ability to exist, create goals to chase after and grow as individuals.

The main argument is that the body and soul are individual forms. Descartes presents three main premises. The first premise of this argument begins with Descartes stating “if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed…I am, I exist” (Descartes 110). This pertains to the soul and that if a human is capable of thought, they exist. Even if a person is unsure of their actual existence, it does not matter as long as they themselves believe they are alive and existing. This leads into the second premise where it is discussed whether humans are being deceived by God over their existence. Descartes argues that if even if God, or some creator, is deceiving us, if we think we exist we do. However, if God is the perfect creator of the universe it would makes sense that He gave his creation souls and a sound existence. The third premise describes the body and soul separately, showing how the two are different. Descartes labels the body as simply being our physical self, that has hands, feet and a solid figure. He writes how the soul has features like sense perception and the ability to fabricate thoughts. The body and soul are presented as being unique from each other, thus the concept of dualism is confirmed. These premises come together to shape the conclusion that confirm duality and that the body and soul are apart from one another.

I agree with Descartes’s first premise on the grounds that if we think we exist, we do. It is impossible to definitively find out if everything is a façade or if humans truly do exist in a real universe. But due to the fact that humans are alive and can think, it is presumed that humans do exist, at least to a certain extent. I also agree with his third premise on the body and soul being different. The soul is not something that is visible but rather an abstract concept used to describe what governs the body and allows humans to speak, think and act. However, I do not agree with his overall notion of duality. Descartes presents his argument without sufficient evidence but rather relies on his own opinion. Typically, a body without a soul cannot be called an existing being. The body might be alive but with no soul there is no person, no identity or personality. Similarly, without a physical body the soul cannot exist. If there is no body there is no person to speak of. Upon birth and death, the body and soul arrive and leave together, leading to the conclusion that they are linked together and rejecting dualism.

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A Look At The Dualism Concept Between The Body And Soul As Depicted In Meditations On First Philosophy By Rene Descartes. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from
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