Early Modern Philosophy

René Descartes

Was Descartes a Cartesian?

Yes, René Descartes was a Cartesian in the sense that he defended his views. But the answer is “no,” too, in that he did not literally mean that the human mind and the body were two separate things. He famously wrote in Meditation II in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641): “I am not in my body like a pilot in a ship.” His intention was to make an abstract distinction between the mind and the body. But because he did not give a satisfactory account of their interaction, Descartes is still stuck with the mind-body dualism of “Cartesianism.”


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