The greatest legacy of Descartes is his theory that the mind and body are two distinct entities. This theory is now known as the mind body dualism. The fundamental premise of this theory is that the nature of mind and body are completely different from each other and they are polar opposites (Beakley & Ludlow, 1992).
Descartes main conclusion is that mind is really distinct from the body, but actually what is a real distinction? A real distinction has three characteristics. Firstly, it is a distinction between two or more substances. Secondly, a real distinction is when one substance can exist and be clearly understood without the other and vice versa. Thirdly, this comprehensible and distinct understanding shows that God can bring about anything in our minds (Descartes, 1992). Hence, the real distinction between mind and body is
1) the mind is a substance, that is a matter
2) it can be clearly and distinctly comprehended without any other substance, including bodies,
3) that God could create a mental substance all by itself, without any other created substance. So ultimately Descartes is arguing for the possibility of minds or souls existing without bodies (Descartes, 1992).
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