Rene Descartes- The Chemistry of Thinking

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Rene Descartes, known as the Founder of Modern Thought, was a pioneer of rationalism, scepticism and dualism. He established the idea that he opposes the fundamentalism of his contemporaries and elder philosophers, while suggesting his own. His life story has guided him to this direction. Descartes was born on 31 March 1596 in the town of La Haye in Touraine in the Loire Valley in central France. His parents are Joachim Descartes, a lawyer and magistrate, and Jeanne (Brochard) who died when Rene was a child. Therefore, he and his brothers, Pierre and Jeanne, were raised mostly by their grandma. In his early years, Descartes studied logic, geometry, and popular theory. Later on, he obtained his law degree at the University of Poitiers in accordance to his father’s wishes. However, he began his own life journey by abandoning his education and by then, he met scientist Isaac Beeckman who sparked his interest in mathematics and physics. Descartes soon returned to France in 1622 where he attended Universities and sold his properties to make investments which will provide him for the rest of his life. Starting from the year 1629, he wrote his major works on philosophy, mathematics and science where the Cartesian philosophy was both recognized and condemned. After his long years of contribution to the philosophy of Meditation and human knowledge, Descartes died on 11 February 1650 in Stockholm Sweden and buried in the church of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont in Paris (Mastin).

If we make ourselves familiar with Descartes’ life, then we are about to obtain the reasons of the philosophies he brought. Thus, studying the facts above is crucial to understanding Rene’s thinking. Among his original principles, he is best known for his Philosophy of Mind and Dualism. His doctrines were developed by his deep meditation and reasoning. His writings are responsible for including well-known quotations. He says, “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”).

In the famous quotation that Descartes stated, he implies his principle about mind and body connection. In those phrases, there consist two different matters. “I think” refers to the mind, and “I am” refers to the body. Descartes proposed that these two matters are connected by nature. In his Cartesian Dualism, he explained the interrelated connection of the mind and body by influencing each other. Although many claimed that this principle is far from convincing, I consider it as a powerful actuality. For example, a person acts out of passion. Considering that the body is responsible for a person’s working capabilities, it does not decide for itself. Such ability is owned only by the mind. And the mind has its ego that is responsible for mediating one’s sense of personal identity. It acts for testing reality consciously and unconsciously. The mind tells the heart what it should love and what it should not. Therefore, it speaks what the body must do. On the other hand, the mind also has its opposite side which is the super ego. It acts as a self-critical conscience. It is the internal judge which automatically works if a person faces real dilemmas. This makes the person to decide whether to continue a certain plan or not. Both ego and super ego have the responsibilities to connect to the body. When the thinking procedures are done, the body works accordingly and willingly. Thus we can all say, “I think, therefore I am”.

In the same part, Descartes officially hailed his doctrine which emphasizes his Dualism. In his work entitled “Discourse on the Method”, he concluded that mind and body are two different and separate things. He doubted his own possession of the body, but in any other circumstances, he would never doubt his possession of the mind. This theory implies that when the body dies, the mind will not. It will function

and exist continually. Gilbert Ryle, a British philosopher, further criticized Descartes’ theory of mind. His work “The Concept of Mind” noted the separating state of mental to physical. Therefore, the mind is distinct from the body although they work rationally for the person’s activities (Ryle 1). The overall arguments stated by Descartes were generally condemned by scientists, philosophers and religious teachers. Personally, Rene’s doctrine is incapable of being proven fact. In medical science, the brain or mind is the central controller of the body with the use of nerves. Hence, a person is considered dead if the brain is no longer functioning. The mind is the very first thing to die. I should also consider logical reasoning that everything has opposites. For example, beautiful opposes hideous as to cleanliness opposes messy and light opposes darkness. The same applies for the opposite of living which is dead. Everything that we can do while living, we cannot do when we die. Thus, if the mind works while our body is alive, it will never work once the body dies. This doctrine has been my concept about mind, and generally about life.

Rene Descartes is undoubtedly a genius person. His doubts led him to his finest works of philosophies that are remarkable throughout the millenniums. He wasn’t born that way just like every one of us. He chose a journey that he believed to be worthy of his potential. This quality exemplifies the way I want to live. By carefully examining my personal capabilities, I can use them to live life righteously. Like Descartes, finding what we actually love is essential. However, we must use the knowledge we’ve received from our elders as a guide. While it’s true that Rene abandoned his law degree, he was never lost afterwards. I could never deny that worthy adventure is one key to success. This adventure refers to the searching of true knowledge that will be used to live practically. Descartes’ works were condemned somehow. It is because he lived in an era before science as we know was existed. His period was very skeptical, while ours is millennial. Science and modern technology helps our ideology more certain than Descartes’ time. If Rene is living on our time, he might continue his revolutionary work to a more convincing one that will be accepted by many. As we are living to an advanced world with little doubts and uncertainty, journey to true wisdom must never end.

Works Cited

Gaukroger, Stephen “ Descarte: An Intellectual Biography” 1995.

Mastin, Luke “The Basics of Philosophy” . 2008, 9 June 2017

Ryle , Gilbert “The Concept of Mind”. 2009, p. 1.

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