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Western University
Philosophy 1020
Cathy Thorpe

18. Materialism 1. Cartesian dualism a) Review of the position ­ There are two fundamentally different kinds of reality: body and mind ­ (or: matter and mind, or: matter and soul…) ­ Matter is o Extended in space o Resistant to touch o Public o Subject to physical forces ­ Mind (or mental states) seem to be totally different o Not extended in space o Not tangible o Private o Not subject to physical forces b) The chief problem facing dualism ­ Elizabeth: “Your notion of the soul excludes extension and it appears to me that an immaterial thing cant possibly touch anything else” ­ It seems impossible to imagine how any physical thing can have causal interactions with the nonphysical mind… ­ …And yet body and mind interact all the time ­ Example: your mind telling you to raise your hand ­ According to princess Elizabeth this should be completely impossible c) Three attempts to solve the problem: historical solutions Interactionism (Descartes) ­ Descartes (whose work in metaphysics really gives rise to this whole enquiry) ­ Simply asserts that mind and body can interact, and he gives us some speculative detail about how this happens ­ But all of this detail really just makes the mind-body more acute ­ Cartesian interactionism is not a solution to the problem, it is an evasion of the problem Occasionalism (Malebranche) ­ Malebranche had the idea of occasionalism, the idea that there is no direct link between bodily events and mental events. It all happens through the mediation of God Mental Events Bodily Events Hunger  Eating ­ God registers my hunger and causes me to eat ­ God sees the physical event and brings about the mental event ­ These things cannot happen directionally, they happen through God Parallelism (Leibniz) ­ Leibniz had the idea of parallelism or pre-established harmony: o The mind and the body are entirely independent but they follow their (deterministic) careers in such a way that they seem to be related ­ Idea of cathedral and town hall close together, both have a clock but the cathedral clock is ten seconds ahead o You get the idea that the striking of the clock in the cathedral causes the striking of the clock in the town hall o We know that this is not true o They are running down their own pre-deterministic path o To think that these two things are causally isolated from each other but they run down parallel paths, so there is an appearance that they are related ­ Hunger  Satiety ­ Eating  Stop eating ­ Both occasionalism and parallelism seem like crazy, impossible solutions to the mind-body interaction problem ­ The problem seems so hard, so impossible, that one begins to think that the solution may lie deeper: that we need to reject an assumption of all these thinkers • Historically, that is what happened • Philosophers began to explore the radical idea that the very intuitive idea of dualism is in fact false • The intuitive idea that bodies and conscious states are irreducible different kinds of thi
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