Rene Descartes. The Dualism of Descartes' Philosophy

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Rene Descartes. The Dualism of Descartes' Philosophy
Rene Descartes. The Dualism of Descartes' Philosophy

Human knowledge of the surrounding reality has evolved gradually over a long period of time. What is now perceived as boring mediocrity, once looked in the eyes of contemporaries as a radical breakthrough, the greatest discovery in the history of mankind. This is how once, in the distant Middle Ages, the philosophy of dualism of Descartes Rene was perceived. Some praised her, others cursed her.

Cartesian dualism

But centuries have passed. Now about Descartes they talk quite rarely and very little. But rationalism once appeared from the theory of this French thinker. In addition, the philosopher was also known as an excellent mathematician. Many scientists created their concepts on the reflections that Rene Descartes once wrote down. And his main works up to the present time are included in the treasury of human thought. After all, Descartes is the author of the theory of dualism.

Biography of the philosopher

R. Descartes was born at the end of the sixteenth century in France in a family of eminent and we althy nobles. As a representativeprivileged French class, Rene received an excellent (both for that time and for the present) education in childhood in the best educational institutions in the country. At first he studied at the Jesuit College of La Fleche, then he graduated from the University of Poitiers. He was awarded a Bachelor of Laws degree.

Gradually, the thought of the omnipotence of science (not God!) in this world matured in him. And in 1619, R. Descartes finally and irrevocably made a firm decision to engage only in science. Already at this time he managed to lay the foundations of philosophy. At the same time, Rene Descartes emphasized the thesis of a close relationship between all natural and human sciences.

After that, he was introduced to the mathematician Mersenne, who had a great influence on Descartes (as a philosopher and as a mathematician). His fruitful activity as a scientist began.

In 1637, his most famous work, written in French, "Discourse on Method" was published. It was from that moment that the dualism of Rene Descartes became justified, the new European rationalist philosophy of the new time began to develop.

dualism in philosophy

Priority to reason

Dualism in philosophy is both opposition and union of idealism and materialism. This is such a worldview that considers in the human world the manifestation and struggle of two factors antagonistic to each other, their antagonism forms everything that exists in reality. In this inseparable pair, there are contradictory principles: God and the world he created; white good and dark evil;the same opposite white and black, finally, the light and darkness inherent in all living things - this is precisely the dualism in philosophy. It is the philosophical basis of the theory of psychophysical parallelism.

At the same time, the concept of the superiority of reason and its basic priority in the basis of scientific knowledge and ordinary life was proved by Descartes as follows: there are too many different phenomena and works in the world, the content of which cannot be comprehended, this makes life difficult, but it allows you to raise doubts about what appears simple and clear. From this it is necessary to derive the thesis that there will be doubts at all times and under any conditions. Doubt is manifested by the lot of thought - a person who knows how to doubt rationally knows how to think. In general, only a person who exists in reality is capable of thinking, which means that the ability to think will be the basis of both being and scientific knowledge at the same time. The ability to think is a function of the human mind. From this it must be concluded that it is the human mind that will be the main root cause of everything that exists. This is how Descartes' rationalism and dualism converged.

Basis of being

Like many of Descartes' theses, the doctrine of dualism is philosophically vague. When studying the philosophy of human existence, Descartes for some time was looking for a basic definition that would make it possible to define all aspects of this term. As a result of lengthy reflections, he deduces the factor of philosophical substance. Substance (in his opinion) is something that can exist without someone else's help - that is, for the presence of a substance, nothing is needed in principle, except for the existence of itself.But only a single substance can have this property. It is she who is defined as God. It always exists, it is incomprehensible to a person, it is omnipotent and it is the absolute basis of everything that exists.

p decartes

Thus reasoned Descartes. Dualism in this respect shows its duality not as a weakness, but, on the contrary, as a strength of the concept.

Thinking principle

The scientist makes human thinking the basis of all the principles of general philosophy and science. He brings about transformations that have a secret meaning and are of exceptional importance for human development and its true culture up to our time. The essence of these actions is characteristic of the philosophical dualism of Descartes.

In the basis of human life and activity, existence and action since that time, not only such important values ​​as spirituality - the basis of man, but also the unconditionally immortal human soul, aimed at the path to God (this was a sign of the entire medieval concept). What was new in this was that such values ​​were directly related to the activity of a person, his freedom, independence, and at the same time the responsibility of each member of society.

The importance of such a turn in human thought was clearly and clearly noted by Hegel, who pointed to Descartes' search for the essence of the scientist himself on the basis of his scientific and even moral principles. Hegel pointed out that the vast majority of thinkers found the authority of the Christian church as a normalizing feature, while Descartes did not.

Thus, dualism in philosophy has become one of the first and gentle attempts to push the religious component in philosophy.

Cognitive principle

"I think, therefore I am." Philosophical science has again found its own realistic ground in this way. It was decided that human thinking comes from the same kind of thinking, as from something necessary, materially reliable in itself, and not from a vague external one.

Rene Descartes dualism

The speculative philosophical form of the rationalistic dualism of Rene Descartes, in which this reform, global for the human essence, was covered, did not fence off truly comprehensive real social and great spiritual and moral results from it for contemporaries and some descendants. Thinking helped a thinking person consciously form his own Self, remain free and at the same time responsible in thinking and working, while considering himself not bound by moral ties and responsible for any other thinking being on Earth.

Let a scientist make only one indisputable statement - about the direct existence of a thinker, but this thesis of Descartes' philosophy of dualism combines a large number of ideas, some of them (in particular, mathematical ones) have a high understanding, like the ideas of human thinking.

Implementation method

The French medieval philosopher R. Descartes solved the problem of the relationship between the real and the ideal by the following method: within our thinking there is a concept of God as absolutely PerfectCreatures. But all the previous experience of living people suggests that we, people, although reasonable, are still limited and far from perfect beings. And the question arises: "How did this not quite simple concept get such recognition and further development?"

Descartes considers the only correct idea that this idea in itself was inspired to man from the outside, and its author, the creator, is the almighty God who created people and put into the human mind the concept of himself as an absolutely Perfect Being. But this understandable thesis also implies the need for the presence of an external world environment as an object of human cognition. After all, God cannot lie to his children, he created a world that obeys constant laws and is understandable to the human mind, which he also created. And he can't stop people from studying his creation.

Thus, God himself becomes in Descartes a certain guarantor of future understanding of the world by man and the objectivity of this knowledge. Blind reverence for the almighty God results in greater trust in the existing mind. Thus, Descartes manifests faith in God. Dualism acts as a forced weakness that turns into a strength.

author of the theory of dualism

Production substances

This concept was widely considered by Descartes. Dualism was considered by him not only from the material side, but also from the idealistic component. Almighty God was once a creator who created the surrounding world, which, like God, divides its essence into substances.His own substances created by him are also able to be on their own, regardless of other derivatives. They are autonomous, only touching each other. And in relation to the almighty God - only derivatives.

Descartes' concept divides secondary substances into the following areas:

  • material substances;
  • spiritual ingredients.

He further highlights the signs of both directions of existing substances. For example, for material substances this is the usual material attraction, for spiritual ones it is thinking. Rene Descartes dualism of soul and body connects and separates at the same time.

In his reflections, the scientist notes that a person is formed from both spiritual and ordinary material substances. It is by such signs that people are separated from other living unreasonable creatures. These reflections lead to the idea of ​​dualism or the duality of human nature. Descartes points out that there is no particular reason to look for a difficult answer to the question that interests many people about what can be the root cause of the appearance of the world and man: their consciousness or acquired matter. Both of these substances are united in only one person, and since he is by nature (God) dualistic, they cannot in fact be a real root cause. They existed all the time and can be various aspects of the same being. Their interdependence is clearly visible and visible to all.


One of the questions of philosophy that Descartes developed was about the method of cognition. Considering the problems of human knowledge, the philosopherThe main knowledge base is built on the basis of the scientific method. He suggests that the latter has been used for quite a long time in such areas as mathematical, physical and other sciences. But unlike them, in philosophy such methods are not used. Therefore, continuing the thought of the scientist, it is quite permissible to point out that when using the methods of other natural science disciplines in philosophy, it will be possible to see something unknown and useful. As a scientific method, Descartes adopted deduction.

Rene Descartes dualism of soul and body

At the same time, the doubt with which the scientist began his reflections is not a firm position of an agnostic, but only a preliminary methodical way of cognition. You can not believe that there is an external world, and even that there is a human body. But doubt itself, in these terms, undoubtedly exists. Doubt can be perceived as one of the methods of thinking: I do not believe, that is, I think, and since I think, it means that I still exist.

In this regard, the most important problem was to see the obvious truths underlying all human knowledge. Here Descartes proposes to solve the problem, taking methodological doubt as a basis. Only with its help can one find truths that cannot be doubted a priori. It must be pointed out that very strict requirements are given for checking for certainty, exceeding in advance those that completely satisfy a person, even if only when studying mathematical axioms. After all, the correctness of the latter can easily be doubted. In this case, it is necessary to determinetruths that cannot be doubted.


The philosophical concept of Descartes is basically based on the flow of the innate principles of the doctrine of being. The dualism of Descartes, his understanding of the essence - that, on the one hand, people receive part of the knowledge they have in the course of some kind of training, but on the other hand, there are those that are indisputable without knowledge, for their understanding it is not necessary to conduct any training of people, nor even look for facts and evidence. Such innate facts (or theses) were called axioms by Descartes. In turn, such axioms are subdivided into concepts or judgments. The scientist gave examples of such terms:

  1. Concepts: Almighty God, human soul, ordinary number.
  2. Judgments: it is impossible to exist and not exist at the same time, the whole in an object will always be greater than its part, only ordinary nothing can come out of nothing.

This shows the concept of Descartes. Dualism is visible both in concepts and in judgments.

Essence of the philosophical method

Descartes defines his doctrine of the method in four clear theses:

  1. You can't trust anything without checking, especially if you're not entirely sure about something. It is necessary to avoid any haste and prejudice, to take into the content of your theory only what the mind sees so clearly and clearly so as not to provoke any reason for doubt.
  2. Break up any problem taken for research into as many parts as needed to best solve it.
  3. Put your ideas intoa specific sequence, starting with the most easy and easily cognizable theses, and gradually complicating the text, as if by certain steps, until the presentation of the most difficult thoughts, assuming a clear structure even among those sentences that do not naturally connect with each other.
  4. Constantly creating lists of descriptions so thorough and reviews so clear to make sure nothing is left out.
Descartes doctrine of dualism


What is Descartes' dualism? With this scientist, the often interpreted "thinking" so far only rather vaguely combines such concepts that in the future will be clearly outlined as consciousness. But the framework of the emerging concept of consciousness is already looming on the philosophical scientific horizon. Understanding one's future actions is the main distinguishing feature of thinking, rational acts of a person in the light of the Cartesian concept.

The thesis that a person has a body, Descartes is not going to deny. As a specialist physiologist, he always studied man. But as a philosopher of his time, he firmly asserts that the significance of people does not lie in the fact that they possess a material, "material" body and can, like an automaton, perform purely physical actions and individual movements. And even if the natural course of the life of the human body is the reason without which any thinking is not capable of going, our life acquires a certain meaning only when thinking begins, that is, the “movement” of rational thought. And then comes another, clearlya predetermined step in the study of Descartes - the transition from the thesis "I think" to the definition of the essence of I, that is, the essence of the whole rational person.

It is worth noting that this French philosopher was a representative of pragmatic, not abstract, "theoretical" knowledge. He believed that the essence of man should be improved.

Mainly, the philosopher Descartes in the history of science is known for substantiating the importance of the mind in the course of cognition, forming the theory of born thoughts, and putting forward the doctrine of substances, principles and attributes. He also became the author of the concept of dualism. Most likely, by publishing this theory, the scientist tried to bring together idealists and materialists who fiercely defend their views.

Grades and memory

In honor of the scientist named his hometown, a crater on the moon and even an asteroid. Also, the name of Descartes bears a number of the following terms: Cartesian oval, Cartesian leaf, Cartesian tree, Cartesian product, Cartesian coordinate system, and so on. Physiologist Pavlov erected a monument-bust of Descartes near his laboratory.

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