Can Substance Dualism Be Defended

Can Substance Dualism Be Defended

Can Substance Dualism Be Defended? Substance dualism is a never ending argument in the Philosophy world as it’s been going on for decades. It is the view that the universe contains two important types of entity which is mental and material. The structure of this paper is that four main argument leads to one conclusion. Firstly, I’ll argue about Descartes’s ‘separability argument’ which stands as the definition of Substance Dualism. Secondly, I’ll argue that mental and physical have different and perhaps irreconcilable properties.

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An argument is not complete without a counter argument which in this case the “pairing” problem that exists in Descartes theory is highlighted and where is the interaction of material and immaterial takes place in our body is argued. Finally, the reply for the counter argument comes in a form of defense and positive argument in favors substance dualism and the weakness with the objection. In Descartes Sixth Meditation, Descartes argues the fact that something is clearly possible to separate from something else, they can definitely exist individually (Walker, 1870). In simple term, something that exists individual is a distinctive entity.

Therefore, as the mind and the body can be clearly conceived apart from one another, the mind and the body are indeed distinct from each other. That’s not the only argument in The Sixth Meditation. The conclusion of Descartes’s argument is that the mind is really distinct from the body, and can exist without it. Mind and body are undeniably a substance as mind is really distinct from body. As an example, if A and B are numerically distinct substances, definitely they can exist without each other. Since this possibility of separate existence, it is both a consequence and a sign of real distinction.

Therefore, not only that mind and body are numerically distinct, but that they are numerically distinct substances. Besides that, the fact that A and B are clearly and distinctly conceive one thing apart from another, both A and B must be understood as complete, and it must be possible to understand each one without the other (Hartfield, 2002). The problem of interactions between mind and body has many philosophers to reject substance dualism as a justifiable theory of mind but it is seldom listed as explicit and laborious argument. Kim (2005) oncerned to make sense of individual causal relationships in situations where parallel sequences occur. To take an example: two bows and arrows, A and B, are dispatched at the same time, resulting in the death of two people at once, Obama and Clinton. What proves that firing of arrow A kills Obama and the firing of arrow B kills Clinton, and not the other way around? Kim (2005) stated one of the possible way of handling the situation is looking for ‘pairing relation’, R that holds between A’s firing and Obama’s death and between B’s firing and Clinton’s death, but not between A’s firing and Clinton’s death or B’s firing and Clinton’s death.

What are the pairing relations in this case? Kim says they are spatial relations: distance, orientation, and so forth. Kim uses this account of causation and pairing against soul (mind) to body interaction as follows. Take two souls, Z and Y, and a material substance, X. In case Z and Y at the same time, T, perform a mental action. Assume Z’s mental action brings about a change in X at T, while Y’s does not. The first question that rises, what relation, R, will work for as the link or pairing of Z’s mental action with the change brought about in X that does not hold between Y and X?

Second question is what causal chain will serve in tracing Z to X? This relation or chain cannot be something spatial. So what is it? Kim claims he doesn’t have a clue. In simple words, Kim’s criticism was if it is possible for souls to interact causally with material substances, then there must be spatial causal chains or spatial pairing relations between souls and material substances. It is not possible that there are spatial causal chains or spatial pairing relations between souls and material substances.

Therefore, it is impossible for souls to interact casually with material substance. Leading to conclusion that substance dualism is not a useful or applicable theory of mind (Kim, 2005). The argument above is valid argument from Jaegwon Kim. But first there is a problem with Kim’s argument. Kim concludes that it is not possible for souls to interact casually with material substance “but if the modality governing is either metaphysical or logical then it would be possible to demonstrate the ontological impossibility of soul-body causal interaction” (Jehle, 2006, p. 69). With that we can wave some of his argument as false premises, but that couldn’t be counted for as a reply for his critic therefore the counter argument for Kim’s critics needs a brief account of causations. Assume that causality is grounded in properties possessed by objects. At a envisage properties are dispositions that can confer ‘causal powers’ on an object. Therefore, the mutual manifestations of reciprocal dispositional partners are the casual relation. Take salt crystal as an example, which dissolves in a drop of water.

The dissolving of the salt crystal is a mutual manifestation of the power that water has to dissolve salt. This will account for Kim’s critics, when Kim’s two souls, Z and Y, both act at time T and only a brings about a change in X, Z brings about this change because X possess the specific property that allows it to be the dispositional partner of Z. Y, on the other hand, basically lacks the property necessary to interact with X (Jehle, 2006). Descartes claimed that mental and the physical seem to have quite different, and perhaps opposing, properties (Walker, 1870).

Mental events have a subjective quality, whereas physical events do not. Subjective aspects of mental events are called qualia (or raw feels), a possibility to feel pain, to see a familiar shade of blue, and so on. Raw feels or qualia seem particularly difficult to reduce to anything physical. There is a few articles and though experiment that supports this theory. As an example, Thomas Nagel (1974) characterizes the problem of qualia for physicalistic monism in his article “What is it like to be a bat? Nagel argued that even if we knew everything there was to know from a third-person, scientific perspective about a bat’s sonar system, we still wouldn’t know what it is like to be a bat. A thought experiment proposed by David Chalmers is the Zombie Argument. The basic idea is that one can imagine, and therefore conceive the existence of, one’s body without any conscious states being associated with it. Chalmers’ argument is that it seems very plausible that such a being could exist because all that is needed is that all and only the things that the physical sciences describe about a zombie must be true of it.

Since none of the concepts involved in these sciences make reference to consciousness or other mental phenomena, and any physical entity can be by definition described scientifically via physics, the move from conceivability to possibility is not such a large one (Chalmer, 1996). The critics or counter argument for this is the infamous question, if the mind can exist individually of the brain; explain how physical memories are created concerning consciousness? Or how consciousness affects physical reality?

One of the main objections to dualistic interactionism is lack of explanation of how the material and immaterial are able to interact. Varieties of dualism according to which an immaterial mind causally affects the material body and vice-versa have come under strenuous attack from different quarters, especially in the 20th century. Critics of dualism have often asked how something totally immaterial can affect something totally material. First, it is not clear where the interaction would take place. As an example, burning someone’s fingers causes pain.

Apparently there is some chain of events, leading from the burning of skin, to the stimulation of nerve endings, to something happening in the peripheral nerves of one’s body that lead to one’s brain, to something happening in a particular part of one’s brain, and finally resulting in the sensation of pain. Then again pain is not supposed to be spatially locatable. It might be answered that the pain “takes place in the brain. ” But naturally, pains are not located anywhere. This leads to the questions of how the interaction takes place. Where in dualism ‘the mind’ is assumed to be nonphysical?

There are a lot of replies for the argument above, but I have included only two that I found interesting. First, Descartes himself stated that the interaction of brain and mind takes place in the pineal gland, where a small amount of energy might cause vibrations which could be transferred to the brain and then to the nervous system. The time Descartes wrote this, biologist has not discovered any function for the gland (Walker, 1870). Robinson (2009) has partially supported this theory by claiming it might be possible for mind to influence the distribution of energy, without altering its quantity.

Since the principle of conservation of energy applies only to closed system. Second, this objection is to assume some modification of causal relations in the physical universe. Mills (1996) has responded by pointing out that mental events may be causally overdetermined. Causal overdetermination means that some features of an effect may not be fully explained by its sufficient cause. For example, “if a ball kick and this causes the window to break but this is the third time that the window has broken in the last week. It is assured that the ball is the cause of the window to break, but it does not explain the feature of the event that is identified by the phrase “this is the third time this week… ” That feature is causally related, in some sense, to the two prior events of the windows having broken in the last week. In response, it has been pointed out that we should probably focus on the inherent or intrinsic features of situations or events, if they exist, and apply the idea of causal closure to just those specific features (Mills, 1996).

In conclusion, substance dualism is likely as the mind and the body can be clearly conceived apart from one another, the mind and the body are indeed distinct from each other. In this paper I’ve argued that Substance dualism can be defended as all the counter argument have been realistically ruled out or replied. References Chalmer, D. , (1996). The Conscious Mind. In search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hartfield, G. , (2002). Philosophy Guidebook to Descartes and The meditation. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook. New york, NY: Routledge. Kim, J. (2005). Physicalism, or something near enough.

Princeton, N. J: Princeton University Press. Mills, E. (1996). Interactionism and Overdetermination. American Philosophical Quarterly, 33, 105-17. Nagel, T. , (1974). What Is Like To Be a Bat. Philosophical Review 83, 435-50. Robinson, H. , (2009). Dualism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed. ), URL = <http://plato. stanford. edu/archives/fall2009/entries/dualism/>. Stuart, M. , (1999). Descartes Extended Substance. New Essay on the Rationalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Walker, W. R. (1870). Descartes Meditations. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 4 (4), 304-320.


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