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Dualism

  • Immaterial minds within material bodies
    • Ie. the mind is not synonymous with the body - the mind is not the same thing as a brain.
      • The mind is totally distinct from the body, totally distinct from the brain.
    • Ancient idea
    • Was followed by many adherents of various traditional views of human nature
      • Includes thinkers such as Plato & St. Augustine
    • Most clearly expressed by Réné Descartes (1596 - 1650)
      • First philosophical figure of the modern European age
      • Was certain that humans consist of an immaterial mind.
        • The very nature of the mind is the conscious ability to think.
        • Very different from the material body
      • Noted that humans can conceive of themselves as existing without bodies
        • Assumption: If one thing can be conceived of existing without the other, the two things must be different.
        • If the self can conceive of existing without a body, the body is not the self.
        • However, one cannot think of oneself without thinking
          • Thinking must be part of the self
          • Thinking is essential
          • Thought is a defining characteristic of what makes oneself
          • Humans are minds, not bodies.
    • Traditionally, humans were thought to be made of two things:
      • The material body
      • The immaterial soul (the mind)
    • Called dualism because humans were made of two (dual) distinct substances.
    • Widely accepted for variety of reasons
      • Bodies have quantifiable and variant physical characteristics
        • Eg. colour, size, shape
        • Minds do not.
      • People’s bodies weaken
        • With exceptions, minds do not.
      • Minds deteriorate
        • Bodies remain strong
      • Differences imply distinct separation of the two
      • Furthermore, religions speak of minds and souls living on after the death of the body
        • Necessitates that duality of mind and body is true.
    • Problems with dualism
      • If mind is immaterial, it cannot affect the material world
      • To affect the material world, new energy would have to be introduced to the material world.
      • Science contradicts the creation of new energy
        • Descartes recognized this
        • Refused to retract his conclusions
        • Believed the mind interacted with the pineal gland
          • Tiny and sensitive
          • Thought that it could even be affected by something completely immaterial
        • Gottfried Leibniz (1646 - 1716)
          • Agreed with the thought that mind and body were distinct and separate.
          • Did not believe that either ever truly interacted at all
          • Believed instead that mind and body were forever in a kind of perfect synchronization.
          • Ie. mind and body ran in parallel
        • Nicholas Malebranche
          • Agreed that mind and body did not ever truly interact at all.
          • Did not believe that mind and body truly ran in parallel
            • Believed that mind and body ran in near-parallel - however, God would intervene to synchronize them both
      • Led to the creation of modern materialism.

A University of Oxford professor's lecture on Cartesian Dualism:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bIS3oRb6ag