I understand now that Descartes wasn't wrong. It's merely those that came after that misinterpretted and abused his ideas, which have thrown the Western paradigm into disarray. When Descartes drew the line between matter and mind (following and developing Galileo's ideas), he was merely setting the boundaries of investigation for (1)the factual analyses of natural science; and (2)the investigation of meaning, for the spiritual realms (then under the rubric of the Christian Church). These two areas have intrinsically different mode of thought and even the base criteria of examination cannot be shared. They are different truths, which must be accessed in different ways. The application of literalism to religion has been a growing force, and one destructive in almost every way. As this mode (literalism: the search for objective 'fact') has grown in humanity, we have come to view it as the only truth and damaged ourselves immensely as we have done so. What Galileo and Descartes were attempting to do was to protect both natural science from the application of a literal scriptural understanding, and also to protect the softer side of knowledge; of morality, aesthetics and teleology, from a literal physicalist understanding. Just as in the first instance, the use of scripture and dogma was threatening to impede the advances of science by denying the validity of our empirical discoveries, in the second instance hard science applied to the field of religion and human values strips all that is useful away from it. It is the wrong tool.Wittgenstein also understood this, in his dissection of language. So did Popper in his analysis of science. But, as with Descartes, they understood that these things must be allowed validity above and beyond literalism, because if the realm of imagination is destroyed by mechanical apprehension, all that it is to be human has disappeared from life. As a footnote I'd point to the rise in fundamentalist religion as another misunderstanding of the difference between fact and meaning. As Karen Armstrong has noted, a correct understanding of the role of mythology has vanished from our society in the drive to see everything as either factually correct/incorrect; or as nonsense. Only by remembering the correct use of mythology and poetic metaphor can we recover the value of religion and also produce a more empathetic morality in the governance of our global society. The fundamentalists make precisely the same mistake as scientists such as Richard Dawkins in desperately chasing the tail of objective fact with no regard to the importance of subjective meaning in being a living, feeling person.