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Descartes, Rene - This 'I' is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Rene Descartes – Key Philosophical Writings

 And although possibly … I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined yet because, on the other side, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other, I possess a distinct idea of body, inasmuch as it is only an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this I.... is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body.......

 And then, examining attentively that which I was, I saw that I could conceive that I had no body, and  that there was no world nor place where I might be; but yet that I could not for all that conceive that I was not.  On the contrary, I saw from the very fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it very evidently and certainly followed that I was; on the other hand if I had only ceased from thinking, even if all the rest of what I had ever imagined had really existed, I should have no reason for thinking that I had existed.  From that I knew that I was a substance the whole essence or nature of which is to think, and that for its existence there is no need of any place; nor does it depend on any material thing; so that this me, that is to say, the soul by which I am what I am, is entirely distinct from body, and is even more easy to know than is the latter, and even if body were not, the soul would not cease to be what it is.

The source of the experience

Descartes, Rene

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Contemplation and detachment