We can and should preserve certain Cartesian intuitions—e.g. that people are distinct from their bodies, and that at least many of our mental events are distinct from any biochemical events—while rejecting Descartes’ metaphysics. One can accept many dualistic conclusions, but follow Strawson in saying that our concept of a person is a primitive (irreducible) concept that applies to spatiotemporal individuals who have both physical and mental properties. Mental events are located in space, where they can bear causal relations to other events, including bodily motions. But mental events do not have the same spatial properties as biochemical events, which are ‘impersonal’ in ways that actions and their rationalizing causes are not.
Keywords: Cartesian dualism; Descartes; dualism; mental events; mental properties; persons; Strawson
Chapter. 15655 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Philosophy of Mind
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