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So, the answer to the question, “Why do stones fall downward? Yet, since stones are inanimate bodies without minds, it follows that they cannot know anything at all—let alone anything about the center of the earth. 'substantial forms' which I had previously held were ones which I had put together or constructed from those basic ideas (AT VII 442-3: CSM II 298).” would be, “Because they are striving to achieve their goal of reaching the center of the earth.” According to Descartes, this implies that the stone must have knowledge of this goal, know the means to attain it, and know where the center of the earth is located. Descartes continues on to make the following point: But later on I made the observations which led me to make a careful distinction between the idea of the mind and the ideas of body and corporeal motion; and I found that all those other ideas of . Here, Descartes is claiming that the concept of a substantial form as part of the entirely physical world stems from a confusion of the ideas of mind and body.Yet, even though the real distinction argument does not go this far, it does, according to Descartes, provide a sufficient foundation for religion, since the hope for an afterlife now has a rational basis and is no longer a mere article of faith.
So the real distinction of mind and body also serves the more scientifically oriented end of eliminating any element of mentality from the idea of body.
In this way, a clear understanding of the geometrical nature of bodies can be achieved and better explanations obtained.
Being sphere shaped is a mode of an extended substance.
For example, a sphere requires an object extended in three dimensions in order to exist: an unextended sphere cannot be conceived without contradiction.
For this reason, a brief look at how final causes were supposed to work is in order.
Descartes understood all scholastics to maintain that everything was thought to have a final cause that is the ultimate end or goal for the sake of which the rest of the organism was organized.
However, recall that Descartes’ conclusion is only that the mind or soul , Descartes claims only to have shown that the decay of the body does not logically or metaphysically imply the destruction of the mind: further argumentation is required for the conclusion that the mind actually survives the body's destruction.
This would involve both “an account of the whole of physics” and an argument showing that God cannot annihilate the mind.
Notwithstanding this convoluted array of positions, Descartes understood one thesis to stand at the heart of the entire tradition: the doctrine that everything ultimately behaved for the sake of some end or goal.
Though these “final causes,” as they were called, were not the only sorts of causes recognized by scholastic thinkers, it is sufficient for present purposes to recognize that Descartes believed scholastic natural philosophers used them as principles for physical explanations.