Body and Soul

Peter King

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195379488
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Body and Soul

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This article argues that modern philosophy is haunted by the specter of Cartesian dualism: the view that a human being is a composite of two fundamentally different substances, one material (the body) and the other immaterial (the mind or soul). Medieval philosophers did not know about Descartes, yet they were well aware of a “Platonic dualism” that has most of the features of Cartesian substance dualism. With Scotus's account of the unity of the composite substance, the medieval elaboration of the Augustinian solution reached its apex. Another version of it held sway as the mainstream consensus for the remainder of the Middle Ages, until philosophical materialism came into its own. The article examines medieval Platonism, medieval Artistotelianism, philosophical materialism, and the metaphysics of hylomorphic compounds.

Keywords: Cartesian dualism; body; soul; Platonic dualism; substance dualism; philosophical materialism; hylomorphic compounds

Article.  10961 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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