Imagining Mind and Body

David Cunning

in Argument and Persuasion in Descartes’ Meditations

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780195399608
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866502 | DOI:
Imagining Mind and Body

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This chapter argues that the Second Meditation result “I am a thinking thing” is not the result “I am an immaterial thing” and is not the result “I am a thinking substance.” Most meditators are not yet in a position to arrive at the latter two results. The meditator abstracts an idea of mind from his pre-Meditations idea of self, but he does not exclude body from mind; nor does he conclude that minds are substances. The chapter considers theargument from doubt that is offered in Discourse on the Method and other texts and argues that the reason why Descartes is able to advance stronger conclusions in these is that he is in a more advanced epistemic position than his meditator. The Second Meditation meditator can perform abstraction but not exclusion, and as a result the Second Meditation does not include an argument for substance dualism. The chapter also argues that Descartes allows that “I am, I exist” and other claims of the cogito variety are dubitable so long as we are thinking them by way of the imagination. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role and placement of the wax digression.

Keywords: cogito; mind; argument from doubt; dualism; wax; abstraction; exclusion; imagination; substance; immaterial

Chapter.  19436 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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