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22 JULY 2014

Substance Dualism, Property Dualism and Mind-Body Dualism

"Consider the following three Cartesian theses:

Substance dualism: Any substance with mental properties lacks material properties and any substance with material properties lacks mental properties.

Property dualism: Mental properties and material properties are different properties.

Real distinction between mind and body: The mind and the body are numerically distinct substances.

How are these theses logically related? Substance dualism is the strongest of the three, and entails the other two. It entails the real distinction between mind and body. For the mind is a substance with mental properties, and the body is a substance with material properties. Now if the mind lacks material properties, and the body lacks mental properties, then the mind and the body cannot be the same substance. But the real distinction between mind and body does not entail substance dualism. For that mind and body are two numerically distinct substances is compatible with both of them having both mental and material properties.

Substance dualism also entails property dualism. For if a substance with mental properties lacks material properties, then mental and material properties are different properties–otherwise, a substance with mental properties would be a substance with material properties. But property dualism does not entail substance dualism. It could be that mental properties and material properties are different properties and yet a substance with mental properties is also a substance with material properties.

But the real distinction between mind and body and property dualism do not entail each other. It could be that mind and body are numerically distinct substances but mental and material properties are the same. For instance, it could be that mind and body are distinct because they have different properties: the mind has a property M that the body lacks, and the body has a property B that the mind lacks. This does not preclude that both M and B are both mental and material properties. So the real distinction between mind and body does not entail property dualism. Nor does property dualism entail the real distinction between mind and body. For even if mental and material properties are different properties, it can still be the case that the mind, which has mental properties, and the body, which has material properties, are the same substance."

(Gonzalo Rodriguez–Pereyra, pp.70–71)

Rodriguez–Pereyra, G. (2008). "Descartes's Substance Dualism and His Independence Conception of Substance". Journal of the History of Philosophy 46(1): 69–90.
Fig.1 Lucy Jones "Philosophy of the Mind Episode Two: Criticisms of Substance Dualism", YouTube.

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bodyCartesian dualismcognitionconsciousnessdefining features of modernitydifferentiationdistinctionsdualism • epiphenomenalism • Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra • introspectionlogical-analytical paradigmmaterial environmentmaterial object • material properties • material realitymaterial space • material substances • material thinkingmaterial world • mental properties • mental substance • mindmind-body dualism • mind-body problem • minds divorced of bodiesobjective knowledgeobjective realityobjectivity • other minds • parallelism • philosophical position • philosophy of mind • physical worldproperties of nature • property dualism • realm of existenceRene Descartesscientifically established objective facts • separability argument • separate thinking • solipsism • soul • subject-object orientated philosophy • subjectificationsubjective conditionsubjectivismsubjectivity • substance dualism

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 OCTOBER 2013

Modern medicine evokes a Cartesian mind-body dualism

"If we look at the history of medicine, we can see that it became what it is today because of a sweeping social transformation that modernized Europe centuries ago. Urbanization and commerce, along with Protestantism and the Catholic Counter–Reformation, encouraged new ways of conceiving and interacting with nature. It was within this context that 'scientific medicine' was invented and elaborated. The particular scientific model that became predominant in Europe in the seventeenth century accepted the mind–body dualism of René Descartes, for whom the human body is a self–contained, entirely material machine. His contemporary, Baruch Spinoza, on the other hand, elaborated a more relational view, stemming from a Jewish tradition that regards the body as essential to a complex and ultimately spiritual being, and all beings as mutually dependent.

Spinoza's perspective is no less compatible with scientific medicine than the Cartesian view. For science has two complementary ways of explaining: by taking apart–as atomic physics mainly does–and by bringing into relation–as Einstein's relativity theory does. Spinoza was quite aware of the power of the first approach, as elaborated by Descartes and advanced by technologies such as the newly invented microscope. Spinoza acknowledges that the human body is composed of parts, and those parts of smaller parts still. But he recognizes also that bodies are encompassed by, and can be adequately understood only in relation to, unities larger than themselves, until we reach the widest system of all, which is 'the whole of nature.' Spinoza was an early exponent of what is known today as 'systems theory.'

Medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could have taken a more integrative path, in keeping with Spinoza's insight that we are guardians not only of our bodies, taken individually, but of the entire domain of nature with which they are continuous. Instead–for reasons that this essay will explore – mainstream medicine adopted the Cartesian machine model."

(Raymond Barglow, Tikkun Magazine, March 2002)

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16th century17th centuryAlbert Einstein • atomic physics • atomisticBaruch Spinozabodybringing into relation • Cartesian machine model • Cartesian view • Catholiccomplexitycomposed of partscontingencydualismhealth carehistory of medicinehuman bodyintegrative practices • Jewish tradition • Judaism • mainstream medicine • man and nature • material machine • medicinemicroscopemind-body dualismnatureProtestantismrelational aestheticsrelational viewRene Descartessciencescientific medicine • scientific model • self-contained • social transformation • spiritual being • systems theorytaking apart • theory of relativity • urbansation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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