The Conceptual Origin of Subject–Body Dualism

Martine Nida-Rümelin

in The Self and Self-Knowledge

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199590650
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741043 | DOI:
The Conceptual Origin of Subject–Body Dualism

Show Summary Details


According to subject–body dualism the experiencing subject is neither identical nor constituted by its body. It is argued that a weak version of subject–body dualism is deeply incorporated into our thought. The purpose of the paper is to describe the conceptual origin of subject–body dualism and to thereby uncover a deep intuition according to which we are perfect individuals. A perfect individual is not constituted by any of its properties, or by being composed of a specific concrete stuff. The intuitive appeal of subject–body dualism can be explained by the insight that we naturally conceive of conscious beings as perfect individuals; this conception can be detected in features of counterfactual thought about ourselves and other beings that we take to be conscious. The conceptual explanation proposed of the dualist intuition does not, however, undermine the dualist view which is based on that intuition.

Keywords: Conceptual explanation of dualist intuition; perfect individuals; individuality of conscious beings; natural conception of experiencing subjects; counterfactual first person thought

Chapter.  19011 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.