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Cartesian Dualism Against Existentialist Nihilism Essay

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Updated: Sep 17th, 2020

This time, I will reflect on existentialist nihilism and Cartesian dualism. I will not undermine the postulates of nihilism because I respect philosophers’ opinions. Instead, I will speak in favor of Cartesian dualism – argue that it is a more parsimonious explanation of reality than existentialist nihilism.

My argument is based on the conviction that God is power. He is the source of perfection, and perfection entails the existence. From this perspective, existence is about becoming closer to God and perfection by following His rules. In this way, existence and relation between God and human can be compared to a driver and a race car – regardless of outstanding technical features, reaching the destination point is impossible without the involvement of a driver.

A similar approach to explaining reality is expressed by dualists. According to Descartes, “there is a God who is all-powerful, and who created me, such as I am.” From this perspective, it is evident that He should have designed the rules for us to follow because he created me and the environment to live in, and gave me mind to perceive this. Because people are more than just a body and they have the ability to think about the world they live in, as well as question or deny their senses, it points to the existence of something bigger than biology – a soul. Because “thinking is another attribute of the soul,” it proves that there should be a higher being – God.

On the other hand, Sartre does not believe in God. Instead, he claims that “existence precedes essence.” A human has no creator and no blueprint or design. It means that it is the choices people make that determine who they really are, not the higher authority that made them the way they are. Moreover, Sartre denies the concept of perfection of people. He states that ideas or universal truths can be perfect, but persons, including God, cannot. More than that, because God does not exist, He is the impossible that returns us to the idea that people themselves determine who they are. But why there is no God? God does not exist because it would take away human’s freedom. Therefore, if people are free, there is no God.

In my belief, the idea that there is no God because His existence means the absence of freedom is not right. The same is true about Sartre’s claim that people are imperfect. Even though Descartes recognizes imperfection of a self-being, he states that no machine ever created by a human is as perfect as a human body created by God. Moreover, machines’ perfection in completing technical tasks cannot help them outperform people because we act from knowledge, not a code or the disposition of our organs. Still, there is something higher to lead us, even though it might limit our choices. Let us return to the example of a driver and a race car. Machines cannot determine the direction to move in – even the most advanced autopilot technologies require the involvement of a human. In this way, a race car needs a driver to reach the final destination. If people were machines, they would either remain immobile or act in accordance with their inner code or the disposition of their organs. Even though it may be similar to freedom (the freedom of choice as stated as Sartre), the higher authority is still needed – at least, to switch it on. So, just like a race car is brought into action and directed by a driver, human life is given and ruled by God.

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