Cory RudaArnauld’s Objections to Descartes’
After finishing the first draft of his
, Rene’ Descartes, a French NaturalPhilosopher renowned for his works in many fields of mathematics, and other modern daysciences
sent a copy to numerous peers, scholars of many nationalities and interests. Hisgoal, in doing so, was nothing more than to complete and solidify the work he had beenworking on for so long by having those whom he sent his work reply with their objections andcriticisms, in that, if those who he had sent them to (considered highly learned and intellectualmen) couldn’t stump him with an objection, who could? One of those who Descartes askedadvice of is a French Theologian and Philosopher by the name of Antoine Arnauld. Arnauld,who had for long respected Descartes and his views, took this opportunity to study his worksfurther, and provided not just a philosophical view, but also a theological one, givingDescartes opinions by not just a great thinker, but also by a man of God, one whom thediscourse was based. Arnauld replies to Descartes with two main groups of objections. Truly,there are three written in his letters, but the third does not really argue anything, just giveminor comments on how Descartes explains and presents his ideas.
Firstly, he sets out by questioning the legitimacy of Descartes’ complete view of howthe mind and the body interact, yet that they are separate entities. Descartes centers much of the first few Meditations on this view, and justifies it by pointing out that since he knowsindubitably that he exists as a thinking being (as demonstrated by the Second
) andyet that he can also question the existence of his body, it only leads to the idea that the bodyand the mind are separate entities. Since this is fact, I can assess that there are no bodieswhatsoever, thus I am something but not a body. Through this, Arnauld restates a previousobjection that Descartes himself raises: How can you surmise that there are no bodies even if