Monday, March 20, 2006

Moreland's Substance Dualism: Part 1

This is the first of a two part post on J. P. Moreland's version of Substance Dualism. As such, you won't see too much original thinking; the point (for now) is to present (accurately, I hope) Moreland's position. Why? Well, it's just easier than coming up with one myself. In part 2 I will present one (of many) of Moreland's supporting arguments. Among responses to the perennial (and often nebulous) debate known as the Mind/Body problem, J. P. Moreland has defended a position of Substance Dualism. This he defines as "the view that the soul- I, the self, mind- is an immaterial substance different from the body to which it is related." So, "I am my soul and I have a body." By way of distinction, property dualism claims "a person is a living physical body having mind, the mind consisting, however, of nothing but a more or less continuous series of conscious or unconscious states and events...which are the effects but never the causes of bodiliy activity." We may futher distinguish Moreland as a Thomistic substance dualist, rather than Cartesian (this at his behest). The dissimilarities are subtle and impertenent (I'm sure one of you Aquinas or Descartes scholars will make me pay for that claim), so we won't linger on them. Suffice it to say that Moreland understands Descartes to (1) have incorrectly reduced the soul to the mind, and (2) have mistakenly distinguished between two seperable substances- mind and body (whereas Moreland recognizes only one substance- the soul, with the body being an ensouled biological and physical structure that depends on the soul for its existence). Concerning (1), Moreland (as a Thomistic dualist) holds that the soul contains, among other things, the faculty of mind (which, incidentally, identifies him as a dichotomist). Hence, the soul is much more than the mind, and the two ought not be conflated. As for (2), Cartesian dualists argue that the body is a physical, ordered aggregate fully describable in physical terms: the mind is related to the mind only via an external, causal relationship. Moreland, on the other hand, though agreeing the body is a physical structure, argues that it is not an aggregate: the body needs the soul. The body, it is claimed, is made human by the presence of the soul diffused equally throughout. This, obviously, is meant to be an overview- it is merely a catalyst for discussion. If you are familiar with Moreland's work, much of the above phraseology probably rung a bell: that's because a good deal of it came straight from several of his works. I did not include a bibliography for the sake of space, if you want sources: ask (nicely) and ye shall receive!


Blogger Simon said...

This is one of my favorite topics.

When you say, "the mind is related to the mind only via an external, causal relationship," do you mean to say, "the BODY is related to the mind only via an external, causal relationship,"?

Looking forward to more posts on this topic,


3/27/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...


Thanks for pointing that out: that is a typo, and should read "the mind is related to the body only via..."

The philosophy of mind is really interesting, I think. I've not spent too much time with it, though I really enjoy reading Moreland (which is tough to do without reading on the mind/body problem).


3/28/2006 12:35:00 AM  

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