MIND BODY SUBSTANCE DUALISM
The mind is about mental processes, thoughts and consciousness. The body is about physical aspects if the
brain – neurons and how the brain is structured. One of the central questions in philosophy concerns the mind
/ body problem: is mind part of the body, or the body part of the mind ? If a person is a mind that has a
body, how do these two existents interact with each other? Mind–Body Substance dualism, in philosophy,
asserts that mind and body are distinct kinds of substances or natures. Substances here refers to entity that
can exist on its own and has distinct properties and persists through change in these .
It is evident that several positive and negative implications follow if a dualistic approach to reality is
1) By far, one of the most frequently cited problems with mind/body dualism is its inability
to explain how the mind can interact with the body. The mind, by definition, is an
immaterial substance that can exercise causal powers over the body. How could the
soul/mind, totally lacking in physical properties, cause things to happen in the body(physical
body) or visa versa?Agency of the sort required for free will and moral responsibility appears to
require mental causation. This objection seems to imply that it is not reasonable to hold that X
and Y are causally connected if one does not know how X and Y are causally connected.
Unfortunately, for the physicalists, this objection has a weakness; scientists know that
electrical fields interact with atoms, but have no idea how this interaction takes place. Further,
the physicalists has not posited a criterion that determines how unlike X and Y must be before
a causal connection becomes unlikely. Finally, it could be that the causal interaction between
mind and body is direct and immediate, without any intervening mechanism. In this case, the
‘how’ question of mind/body interaction is not applicable.
2) 2). Some philosophers have argued that if human beings are substantial minds, then
one cannot know if other minds exist because one only has access to other persons
through physical interaction. (solipsism)Other individuals could very well be robots who
express common human behaviors, but have no mind or self. Does this describe the way
reality is? The fact that persons seem to interact with each other is hard to reconcile with
3) Substance dualism seems to have implications for how persons retain their individuality.
Spatial locations cannot be ascribed to souls because they are non-physical entities; therefore, if
souls are non-spatial, then how can one soul be distinguished from another? Dualistic thought
requires that there be some sort of individuality to distinguish persons, but such becomes difficult if
minds are non-spatial. Further, why is it that a soul only inhabits one body, rather than two, or three?
The apparent loss of personal individuality has serious implications for the supporter of mind/body
4)The existence of substantial souls bears on the issue of person identity through change.
Two fundamental views oppose the notion that persons remain the same over time: Physicalism and
Epiphenomenalism. The former maintains that human beings are entirely creatures of matter.
Epiphenomenalists are more dualistic in nature because they postulate the existence of mental
properties; however, in this theory, the events at the physical level obey deterministic physical laws
and mental events are mere byproducts .Both physicalists and epiphenomenalists ultimately ground
the self in material processes and, therefore, believe that humans really have no constant identity. On
the contrary, substance dualism views the soul as an unchanging entity, even though the properties
had by the soul are continually fluctuating; therefore, according to substance dualism, personhood
endures from birth to death.
5) It seems that personal identity through change has significant implications on the issues
like punishment and fear of the future. First, if human beings do not retain personal identity over
time, then why should society punish anyone for crimes? "The self that committed the crime in the
past is not literally the same self who is present at the time of punishment" . In this case, every jail in
the world holds innocent people who are being punished unjustly. Further, if selves do not continue
into the future, then fear of the future must be an illusion. Only if it is possible to manipulate the future
can one be anxious about what is to come. Substance dualism definitely makes sense of punishment
and fear of the future.
6) Substance dualism also has some interesting implications for the issue of life after death..
Plato maintained that the soul must be immortal because there is no good reason to believe it can be
decomposed or annihilated. Substance dualism allows for one to retain his/her personal identity after
the event of death. If physicalism is true, then the body faces extinction at death; for the physicalists
to maintain some respectable belief in immortality, he/she may have to postulate that God recreates
bodies after death; however, this scenario reduces persons to mere replications of their original
selves. In other words, "[w]e are not interested in becoming extinct at death and having a double
recreated who looks like us or has our memories or character traits.
7) Not only does mind/body dualism make sense of immortality, but it also has implications
regarding human rationality. According to Physicalism and Epiphenomenalism, people's thoughts,
judgments, and actions are determined by physical forces. The problem with determinism is that it is
self-refuting: "If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined to either accept
or reject determinism. But if my sole reason for believing or not believing X is that I am causally
determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false" . If all
judgments are the result of random chemical motion, then no belief can be held for any reasons
whatsoever. Thus, physicalism and epiphenomenalism, if true, are self-refuting because they imply
determinism, a view that leaves no room for rational beliefs.
Now if the physicalist’s account of the self is true, and personal identity changes at every moment,
then it follows that no person can ever think through an argument. If there does not exist an enduring
self who is present at every stage of the argument, then one cannot hold the premises in any logical
relation to draw a conclusion! Substance dualism solves this problem by claiming that the mind is an
unchanging entity that remains the same throughout the process of deductive thought.
8) Mind/Body Dualism make sense of rationality, but it also has implications for morality. The
dualistic perspective is consistent with the reality of moral choices because it allows for the free
choice of virtuous actions. However, if human beings are determined machines, then no one would
have control over his/her actions, particularly moral actions. It seems that, for moral decisions to exist,
one must have the freedom of choice allowed in mind/body dualism.
9) Argument from reason
If, all of our thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then we have no reason for assuming that they are also
the consequent of a reasonable ground. Knowledge, however, is apprehended by reasoning from ground to
consequent. Therefore, if dualism were true, there would be no way of knowing it—or anything else not the
direct result of a physical cause—and we could not even suppose it, except by a fluke.
That is, in each case to assume the veracity of the conclusion would eliminate the possibility of valid grounds
from which to reach it
Several positive and negative implications follow from substance dualism as an explanatory
hypothesis about reality. First, the problem of causal interaction between mind and body is a possible
enigma for the substance dualist. Second, the problems of solipsism and personal individuality are
indication that dualistic theory needs revision. However, substance dualism has positive implications
on issues like personal identity through change and the plausibility life after death; the existence of
substantial minds make further sense of human rationality and morally virtuous acts. Substance
Dualism is certainly not a dead theory.