Am I Simply a "Thinking Thing"? - Meditation 2 from Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy"
Here is a look at Meditation 2 from Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy. If you haven't read Meditation 1, please take a look here. If you are interested in my personal thoughts on critiquing Cartesian Rationalism, check here. In Meditation 2 Descartes explores a bit more regarding what it means to be a "thinking thing." In Meditation 1 he established that he must be this thinking thing. Here he makes an interesting claim, that even his perceptions of reality as a "body" must really be grounded in the existence of his more fundamental thinking mind. As such, it is the mind which perceives the essences of things, what they really are, and affirms their nature in its act of judgment.
This idea, while being more extreme than Plato, reminds me of Plato's fundamental insight ... that the mind perceives reality on a fundamentally different level than the senses do. The mind pierces down to the essences of things, while the senses only perceive the changing physical nature of things. Descartes obviously is taking this even further, claiming that the senses are somehow then faculties of the mind, cutting himself off from the direct knowledge of the bodily world in itself. By doing this, it doesn't appear clear to me that it is possible to undue such an error if one continues down the same path of Rationalism.