8

I really tried finding the original passage where Descartes lays out the following argument:

Descartes himself anticipated an objection like this and argued that dependence does not strongly support identity. He illustrates by means of the following example: a virtuoso violinist cannot manifest his or her ability if given an instrument in deplorable or broken condition. The manifestation of the musician's ability is thus dependent upon being able to use a well-tuned instrument in proper working order. But from the fact that the exhibition of the maestro's skill is impossible without a functioning instrument, it hardly follows that being skilled at playing the violin amounts to no more than possessing such an instrument. Similarly, the interactionist can claim that the mind uses the brain to manifest it's abilities in the public realm. If, like the violin, the brain is in a severely diseased or injurious state, the mind cannot demonstrate its abilities; they of necessity remain private and unrevealed. However, for all we know, the mind still has its full range of abilities, but is hindered in its capacity to express them.

IEP: Dualism and Mind

If you could give me the exact quote or a reference where to find it in his works?

  • I could not find any relevant source, either. My suggestion: write the article's author directly. The email for Prof. Scott Calef, Ohio Wesleyan University, appears after the list of references. As of the date of this answer, Prof. Calef appears on the list of Ohio Wesleyan facuty. – Mark Andrews Feb 17 at 3:48
5

There is a Corpus Descartes that allows to search for a word in all of his writings. It seems however that there is no "violon/ist/" or closely related item. Searching for "instrument" gives a paragraph from the Meditations that might have been paraphrased:

Premierement donc ie remarqueray icy qu’on ne vous croit pas, quand vous auancez si hardiment, et sans aucune preuue, que l’esprit croist, et s’afoiblit auec le corps ; car de ce qu’il n’agit pas si parfaitement dans le corps d’vn enfant, que dans celuy d’vn homme parfait, et que souuent ses actions peuuent estre empeschées par le vin, et par d’autres choses corporelles, il s’ensuit seulement que tandis qu’il est vny au corps, il s’en sert comme d’vn instrument pour faire ces operations, ausquelles il est pour l’ordinaire occupé ; mais non pas que le corps le rende plus ou moins parfait qu’il est en soy : Et la consequence que vous tirez de là n’est pas meilleure, que si de ce qu’vn artisan ne trauaille pas bien, toutes les fois qu’il se sert d’vn mauuais outil, vous inferiez qu’il emprunte son adresse, et la science de son art, de la bonté de son instrument.

(Google books shows a place where the paraphrase might have its origin.)

  • 3
    This is from Descartes' reply to the 3rd objection by Gassendi to the 2nd Meditation. The English translation may be found on p89 here: earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1642_3.pdf c2017 by Jonathan Bennett. (see the right-hand column on the page, third paragraph, beginning with "First point: I don't accept your statement that the mind...") – Bread Feb 17 at 0:07
  • I could not find any relevant source, either. My suggestion: write the article's author directly. The email for Prof. Scott Calef, Ohio Wesleyan University, appears after the list of references. As of the date of this comment , Prof. Calef appears on the list of Ohio Wesleyan faculty. – Mark Andrews Feb 18 at 3:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.