Meditations on First Philosophy Argumentative Analysis

In the Sixth Meditation, Descartes argues for the real distinction between mind and body. Explain what ‘real distinction’ in general means. Then, clearly state the argument in the following passage (page 140) from the Sixth Meditation.

I know that if I have a vivid and clear thought of something, God could have created it in a way that exactly corresponds to my thought. So the fact that I can vividly and clearly think of one thing apart from another assures me that the two things are distinct from one another—·that is, that they are two·—since they can be separated by God. Never mind how they could be separated; that does not affect the judgment that they are distinct. ·So my mind is a distinct thing from my body. Furthermore, my mind is me, for the following reason·. I know that I exist and that nothing else belongs to my nature or essence except that I am a thinking thing; from this it follows that my essence consists solely in my being a thinking thing, even though there may be a body that is very closely joined to me. I have a vivid and clear idea of •myself as something that thinks and isn’t extended, and one of •body as something that is extended and does not think. So it is certain that •I am really distinct from •my body and can exist without it.


Argument Analyses should be 1 to 1.5 pages long. To get credit, you must use relevant quotations from the course reader. Include a page number for each quotation, and provide a list of works cited.

Grading Standards

* Up to 40 points based on the following criteria: Student’s argument analysis… 1. accurately explains Descartes’ concept of real distinction,
2. lays out the argument and demonstrates understanding of the passage, 3. uses 2-4 properly cited, relevant quotations from the passage,

4. uses standard English, proper formatting, etc. (1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing, in-text citations, MLA-style works cited entry, etc.)

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