Does Descartes give any good reason for saying that his mind could exist without his body?
In this essay I will use Descartes’ reasoning from clear and distinct perception to argue whether it is plausible when considering whether the mind could exist without the body. I will then use the masked man fallacy, Antoine Arnauld’s triangle example and how the mind and body are linked to counter-argue the claim, coupled with Descartes’ responses. I will then conclude that this reason is not good primarily because, although we can imagine the separation of the mind and body, they are essentially linked and one cannot exist, or function, independently of the other.
Descartes’ sixth meditation presents us with his second argument for saying that his mind could exist without his body, from clear and distinct perception, which goes as follows:
“P1) I have a clear and distinct idea of the mind as a thinking, non-extended thing.
P2) I have a clear and distinct idea of body as an extended, non-thinking thing.
C) Therefore, the mind is really distinct from the body and can exist without it. (Descartes, 1998).”
This idea purports that if we can rationally imagine two things being separate from one other, they could exist apart in reality. Furthermore, Descartes’ argument follows that if we can have a clear and distinct perception of the mind and body being separate, such that thoughts belong to the mind and extensions belong to the body, it is possible that they do exist separately.