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Descartes’ Meditation II: Reading Analysis


After reading the first part of Descartes’ Meditation, it was interesting to learn other thoughts about the chosen topic. His Meditation 2 about the human mind and the body seems to be a logical continuation of the discussion. The goal of the chapter is to understand the essence of the two components that are inherent to all living beings and define which one is more critical for existence.

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There are 16 paragraphs of different lengths in the second chapter of Descartes’ Meditation, and it is possible to divide all of them into six meaningful sections. First, the author aimed to introduce the background and plan of his discussion, focusing on the questions and possible hypotheses. His main idea is that everything, including the body and motion, is fiction, except the mind. The following section gives clear definitions of what the body, the mind, human consciousness, and sleep are in relation to the chosen topic of Meditation.

As soon as several ideas are combined and understood, Descartes made an attempt to explain the connection between perceiving and thinking and share his vision of what could make him a thinking thing. However, when new knowledge was obtained, new intentions emerged. In the following section, the philosopher used the example of wax and developed his interpretation with the intuition of the mind playing a critical role.

During the following several paragraphs, Descartes continued doubting the reasons for making choices, the knowledge that is available, and the conditions that are perceived. His recommendation is to judge the things around using the experience obtained and the objects that can be seen. Finally, the conclusions about the relationship between the mind and the body are made. Descartes underlined that something could exist because a person is able to see it, and as long as a person sees something, it serves as solid evidence of what this person exists. Compared to the role of the body, the part of the mind is quickly apprehended.

Critical Evaluation

The reading of the second chapter of Descartes’ Meditation is associated with doubtful attitudes. On the one hand, I like the way the philosopher chose to continue his discussion about the presence of humans in the world. I agree with Descartes that everything is ok until a person is conscious enough to consider himself or herself as something. In other words, it is the responsibility of a man or a woman to develop intentions and gain new knowledge.

On the other hand, I cannot understand the necessity of doubting everything around me. Descartes used his perception and intuition to make some conclusions and questioned almost every aspect of the world around him. At the same time, he said about his ability to perceive and apprehend some objects using sensation (to hear voices, see the light, or feel the heat). I cannot help but wonder what made him confident in his correctness of understanding his senses. Descartes mentioned that God is able to cause different thoughts in the human mind. Therefore, the power of supernatural beings cannot be ignored, as well as cannot be grasped.

Compared to the first part of his Meditation, the chapter under analysis is full of unclear and multi-sided discussions. First, Descartes had some intentions to prove something, and then new knowledge is obtained, enhancing further doubts and goals. The way of his interpretation of reality seems to be circular, with no definite beginning and no clear ending. As a result, it is easy for a reader to join the evaluation of the nature of the human mind and the body at any stage and be correct in the chosen interpretations and attitudes.

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In general, the work of Descartes has its strong and weak aspects, which proves the ambiguity of philosophy as a subject. The human mind and the body are closely connected, but the author did not want to find connections but identify the distinctions between the concepts. I would like to agree with Descartes that the body has specific qualities, but it does not possess enough power to be stronger than the mind.

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