Outline Descartes' conceivability argument (5 marks)

Descartes’ argument from conceivability for the mind and body as distinct substances is presented in Meditations VI. Descartes stars by asserting that he has a clear and distinct idea of himself as something that thinks and isn’t extended; takes up no physical space. He also has a clear and distinct idea of body as something which does not think and is extended. He then claims that anything of which he has a clear and distinct idea can be created by god in a way that aligns with his idea, as if god is omnipotent then the only time he would not be able to make something would be when the concept is contradictory, which the concepts of mind and body are not. If this is true, then god can create mind as something which thinks and isn’t extended, and body as something which does not think and is extended. Therefore, Descartes says, the mind and the body can exist independently of one another. If the mind and the body can exist independently, then they must be distinct and separate substances. Therefore, Descartes can conceive of the mind and body separately, so god must be able to create them separately, and thus the mind and body must be two different substances.

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