Philosophical Way of Thinking
Philosophical Way of Thinking 8
PhilosophicalWay of Thinking
PhilosophicalWay of Thinking
Thephilosophical way of thinking differs from the normal way of thinkingin that philosophers connect ordinary issues to extraordinary forces.The philosophers often focus on abstract ideas such as emotions, theprocess of thinking and the mathematical analysis. The philosophersalso focus on natural phenomena and they have been central in thedebate of the existence of the divine and its difference with thenatural. This discussion shall focus on Rene Descartes’ philosophyon cartesianism, dualism and morality. Descartes was devoted tofinding what he referred to as true knowledge from within himself.The three were Descartes’ central philosophies and they influencedphilosophical works in the early centuries.
Descartesused reason to develop natural sciences, which were referred to ascartesianism. This was a system of thinking that contained allknowledge and expressed it in a logical way. He believed thatphilosophy was grounded in metaphysics and all scientific knowledgeemerged from metaphysics1.Descartes believed that everyone was capable of attaining absoluteknowledge by applying methodological skepticism. This is informed byhuman thoughts and he believed that human beings are products of thethought process. The proof that people existed was through provingthat people thought about their actual existence.
Descartesrefuted the use of senses to prove human existence. He argued thatthe existence could only be proven through the thought process. Theprocess of thinking produced powerful knowledge, which proved thathuman beings existed. In his opinion, senses were controlled by thethought process, which influenced judgment2.However, this can be refuted as human senses prove the existence ofhuman beings. The thought process is fed by the senses, which feedthe mind so that it can make judgments. The thoughts that a personproduces are as a result of the senses.
Descartes is the father of deduction as he argued that the perceptionwas not a reliable source of knowledge. This used experimentation andthoughts to verify the truth about something. He, however, combinedthis with the perception because he believed in God3.He argued that the senses were not in his control and this proved theexistence of a force outside of himself, which must have been God.The use of deduction as a source of true knowledge is legitimate asdeduction reduces human biases especially from sensory experience.Additionally, the sources are controlled by forces outside the self,although these are forces of nature and not God as argued byDescartes. Science proves the existence of natural forces in theenvironment such as the force of gravity, which influence humanbeings.
Dualismwas another strong philosophy by Descartes. He argued that the humanbody was like a machine although the soul is not material and it isnot influenced by the forces of nature. The human body is comprisedof the physical body and the soul, which form the dualism nature ofhuman beings4.The body and the soul he said interacted through the pineal gland,which was the basis of the dualist nature of human beings. The bodyin some instances can control the mind. He gave the example of casesin which people act irrationally such as crimes of passion. However,in Descartes’ opinion, the soul is always in control of the body.
InDescartes’ opinion, the pineal gland was the seat of the soul. Hesaid this was because, in his opinion, the pineal gland was one,unlike other parts of the brain. He also said that the pineal glandwas near the ventricles, and the celebrospinal in the ventriclescontrolled the body and thus the argument that the mind controlledthe body. This was the basis for the debate on the relationshipbetween the mind and the body. The debate of whether the mindcontrols the body can be settled in that they influence each other.The mind makes decisions based on information fed to it by thesenses. The mind thus relies on the senses to obtain information andrespond to stimuli.
Thedualism argument is based on the role of senses and the mind incontrolling human activity. Science shows that the pineal gland isdivided into two unlike Descartes’ argument that it is one. This,therefore, negates the argument that is the seat of the soul. Thesoul cannot said to be localized in one part of the brain. The soulexists within the human brain and influences human behavior at alltimes. The mind controls the body by helping it make judgments5.The mind receives sensory information from the senses. The senseshave nerves that are stimulated by the external environment. Thisstimulation gathers information for the mind. The mind then processesthe information and uses the information to control the senses for aresponse to an external stimulus.
Theduality that exists between the mind and the body can thus, be proventhrough the control of the body on the mind. Each controls the otherthrough the sensory system. The duality exists because the mind mustdepend on the body for information through the senses and the sensesthen respond to the environment due to information obtained from themind6.The mind and the body can thus, not exist independently. This is incontradiction to Descartes’ argument that the mind can functionwithout a body.
Finally,Descartes moral philosophy was grounded on metaphysics. He believedthat ethics was the most perfect science and was thus hard tounderstand despite the fact that it was metaphysics. Through ethics,he connected science to God, nature and dualism. He also believed infree will. He believed that reason was the basis for knowing what isgood as it is contained in virtue, which is made up of properreasoning7.The role of human beings is to discover the sovereign good as this isthe source of pleasure.
Virtueguides human actions and this is based on a person’s quality ofreasoning. The quality of reasoning is based on the amount ofknowledge that a person has. Descartes thus argued that human beingsshould seek knowledge as this is the basis of reasoning and virtue.Human choices are based on knowledge that is the basis for reasoning.It is the reasoning that forms the basis for pleasure. Human beingsare always seeking pleasure and this cannot be attained without doingsome good. Positive actions are based on reasoning which helps humanbeings to differentiate good and bad.
Theability to reason properly is also influenced by the health of themind. One must have a healthy mental condition. This, therefore,completes the philosophy of the mind and the body as knowledge isattained from the senses, which makeup the body 8.Descartes dwelt on the role of passions and emotions in humanactivity. He believed that human beings were heavily influenced byemotions and passions, which were as a result of human reasoning.Human reasoning caused positive actions which brought pleasure orlack of it9.
Descartesstated that the sovereign good was pleasure and added that spiritualpleasure was better than bodily pleasure10.The mind controls one’s happiness and happiness cannot be attainedsolely from fortune. The mind is the origin of man’s pleasure andhappiness11.This is the basis of modern philosophy that happiness comes fromwithin and a person can choose to be happy or not. Happiness isinfluenced by the mind and only the mind can control one’s extentof happiness.
Themoral philosophy is based on knowledge, which leads to reasoning.Morality is based on knowing what is right or wrong. This supportsDescartes’ argument that knowledge in the basis for morality.Morality is the ability to differentiate right from wrong, althoughthis is cultural as what may be correct in one society may beinappropriate in another12.The notion that doing right causes pleasure is also true as humansatisfaction is based on having a positive impact on other people.Simple acts of kindness are important in giving people happiness.
Inconclusion, Descartes’ philosophy was on cartesianism, dualism andmorality. He devoted his life to discovering these three and believedthat knowledge came from within. Cartesianism was about usingdeduction to attain knowledge. Descartes believed that knowledgecould not be attained from perception. On dualism, Descartes arguedthat the mind and the body are independent of each other, but the twoinfluenced each other. Descartes philosophized that the mind was notcontrolled by the body and the senses. Finally, Descartes argued thatmorality was the source of pleasure and that everyone was capable ofattaining morality. He believed that knowledge was the source ofreasoning, which led to virtuous acts.
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Naaman-Zauderer,Noa. 2010. Descartes`Deontological Turn: Reason, Will and Virtue in the Later Writings.Cambridge University Press.
1 Descartes, René. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
2 Descartes, René. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
3 Descartes, René. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 31
4 Melchert, Norman. 2002. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. New York: McGraw Hill. 71
5 Descartes, René. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 201
6 Carlson, Neil R. 2001. Physiology of Behavior. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Pearson: Allyn & Bacon. 91
7 Baird, Forrest E. Walter Kaufmann. 2008. From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 129
8 Carlson, Neil R. 2001. Physiology of Behavior. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Pearson: Allyn & Bacon. 158
9 Naaman-Zauderer, Noa. 2010. Descartes` Deontological Turn: Reason, Will and Virtue in the Later Writings. Cambridge University Press. 92
10 Naaman-Zauderer, Noa. 2010. Descartes` Deontological Turn: Reason, Will and Virtue in the Later Writings. Cambridge University Press. 127
11 Baird, Forrest E. Walter Kaufmann. 2008. From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.85
12 Carlson, Neil R. 2001. Physiology of Behavior. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Pearson: Allyn & Bacon. 107