Integrative Dualism

Joseph Almog

in What Am I?

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195146462
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833054 | DOI:
Integrative Dualism

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This chapter takes up the task of examining the three essential Cartesian elements of the human mind, the human body, and the human being. It poses the problem of integration: how does Descartes integrate mind and body into a single human being whose mind and body they are? Opposing approaches to the question of dualism are distinguished: classical separatist dualism and integrative dualism. Central to separatist dualism is the conception of generic essences which forces a disjointed treatment of articulating essence, on the one hand, and provides an account of endurance in time (the life time description problem), on the other. It is argued that two conceptions of substance are present in Descartes. The existential conception claimed by separatist dualism is that substance can exist all by itself. The categorical conception introduced with the idea of ‘complete substance’ is existence‐free, and stresses the categorical difference between substance and modes or attributes. It opens up a sense in which the real distinction of Chapter 1 can be understood as either existential or categorical distinction. Integral dualism reverses the methodology of separatist dualism by asserting the primacy of the integral human being as the entity in terms of which the human mind and body are specified. The essence of the mind and body are depicted as full essences—the mind and body of a human being. Two Cartesian frameworks emerge: one populated by ‘Descartes cuts’ of minds and bodies, which are instantaneous bundles of mental attributes and physical properties respectively; and a developed, robust universe of constantly changing items. Though Descartes appears to operate with both at times, the metaphysics claimed for the body is robust, and the suggestion of this chapter is that the same holds for the mind. The problem of persistence through change is analysed next, in the context provided by Descartes's treatment of the wax in Meditation II. It is argued that the abstractionist cannot deal with change in time, but that robust integrative dualism is apt to assuage these worries.

Keywords: dualism; substance

Chapter.  13403 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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