PHILOSOPHY N OTES SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
The mind-body problem: The following three claims are mutually incompatible.
I. Naturalism: all physical events have only physical causes.
II. The soul is non-physical.
III. The activity of the soul causes action.
Accepting DI (Dualistic Interactionism) requires us to make a choice
I. Keep dualism, but get rid of interaction. (Malebranche)
II. Keep interaction, but get rid of dualism. (Physicalism: the soul/mind is just the brain.)
III. Get rid of both dualism and interactionism. (Leibniz)
Malbranche – Occasionalism
o There are immaterial souls and material bodies (dualism)
o But, there is no causal interaction between mind & body.
o There seems to be interaction, because God intervenes to coordinate mental and
M1 M2 M3
B1 B2 B3
Cartesian Dualism sets the agenda for Early Modern debates about the nature of Mind.
Descartes represents the common-sense view.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
o Ancestors were Portugese Jews who fled the inquisition to Holland, where he was
o Monist – There is only one substance = the whole of reality
o Whole of reality = God/nature = the infinite divine substance
o One substance viewed under two aspects/attributes
o Accepts a conceptual distinction between mind/body, but not a real distinction
Substance = that which contains within itself complete explanation of its nature and
o But, that which can be known through itself alone can’t have an external cause
o So, the substance is the cause of itself
o Implies that substance is completely self-dependent
o God is the only thing that qualifies
o God = Nature = all that is = the totality of reality
Attribute = some quality that the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of a
o One substance, with infinite attributes
o The generated and