24 Dec 2017

Descartes Meditation 6

Finally, in Sixth Meditation, Part 2, Descartes mentions how the mind and body interact:
... I have a body which is adversely affected when I feel pain, which has need of food or drink when I experience the feelings of hunger and thirst, and so on... Nature also teaches me by these sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, etc., that I am not only lodged in my body as a pilot in a vessel, but that I am very closely united to it, and so to speak so intermingled with it that I seem to compose with it one whole. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, who am merely a thinking thing, should not feel pain, for I should perceive this wound by the understanding only, just as the sailor perceives by sight when something is damaged in his vessel... For all these sensations of hunger, thirst, pain, etc are in truth none other than certain confused modes of thought which are produced by the union and apparent intermingling of mind and body.
Page 1-29 of 1911 edition of The Philosophical Works of Descartes (Cambridge. University Press), translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane

Best commentary I have found is SparkNote on Meditations on First Philosophy:

Overall Analysis and Themes

First Meditation: skeptical doubts

Second Meditation, Part 1: cogito ergo sum and sum res cogitans
Second Meditation, Part 2: the wax argument

Third Meditation, Part 1: clear and distinct perceptions and Descartes' theory of ideas
Third Meditation, Part 2: Descartes' theory of ideas (cont.)
Third Meditation, part 3: the existence of God and the Cartesian Circle

Fourth Meditation, Part 1: God is no deceiver
Fourth Meditation, Part 2: Will, intellect, and the possibility of error

Fifth Meditation: "The essence of material things, and the existence of God considered a second time"

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