Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Saw" As Illustrating Descartes' Mind-Body Dualism

In my Western Philosophy class today I was teaching out of Descartes' Meditations. Descartes thought "mind" and "body" to be two entirely different kinds of substances, "mind" being indivisible and unextended, "body" (and all corporeal things) being divisible and extended.

I quoted from Meditation VI, where Descartes writes, "yet if a foot, or an arm, or some other part, is separated from the body, I am aware that nothing has been taken away from my mind."

After quoting this I said, "like the movie "Saw" illustrates. The guy cut his foot off, thus losing a small percentage of his corporeal, extended, divisible body. But, sadly, he retained 100% of his indivisible mind.

One of my students then said, "Saw is a genius movie!" And we began to discuss "Saw" as illustrative of Descartes. As one student left I asked, "Are you understanding Descartes? Are you getting this stuff??" She responded, "Yeah, thanks, the "Saw" thing really helped me."