The Mind‐Body Union, Interaction, and Subsumption

Louis E. Loeb

in Early Modern Philosophy

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195177602
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835553 | DOI:
 The Mind‐Body Union, Interaction, and Subsumption

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This chapter builds on Margaret Wilson's work to exhibit a significant difficulty for both Descartes's interactionism and Cartesian interactionism in general, and to relate the objection that emerges to other criticisms of these positions. The first section provides an exposition of Wilson's account of Descartes's natural institution theory. The second section considers Wilson's suggestion that on the natural institution theory mind-body connections are problematic because they are contingent or due to arbitrary divine decree. The third section argues that Wilson's observations about the natural institution theory nevertheless point in the direction of another difficulty, in that the mind-body connections in Descartes are “brute”, not subsumed under more general connections. The fourth section reviews a claim in the literature to the effect that any version of Cartesian interactionism must rely on objectionably brute connections. The next section shows that a number of other objections to interactionism can be refined with reference to the problem of brute connections. Finally, the sixth section considers Descartes's attitude to the problem at hand and his attendant views about the nature of explanation in different realms. It is argued that Descartes's response to the problem of brute connections is intertwined with a commitment to different standards of explanation for mental and physical phenomena.

Keywords: Descartes; Margaret Wilson; dualism; Cartesian dualism; interactionism; natural institution theory

Chapter.  12311 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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