The mind is a craftsman, the body his tool

— Descartes, René (1596-1650)

Place of Publication
Michel de Soly
The mind is a craftsman, the body his tool
Metaphor in Context
First of all then, let me point out that I do not accept your statement that the mind grows and becomes weak along with the body. You do not prove this by any argument. It is true that the mind does not work so perfectly when it is in the body of an infant as it does when in an adult's body, and that its actions can often be slowed down by wine and other corporeal things. But all that follows from this is that the mind, so long as it is joined to the body, uses it like an instrument to perform the operations which take up most of its time. It does not follow that it is made more or less perfect by the body. Your inference here is no more valid than if you were to infer from the fact that a craftsman works badly whenever he uses a faulty tool that the good condition of his tools is the source of his knowledge of his craft.
(Fifth Set of Replies, p. 245)
Past Masters
Descartes, René. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof, and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.