Idealistic Studies 7 (1):50-60 (1977)

I want to suggest in this essay that there are some problems in the interpretation of Descartes’ views about persons, minds, the mental, and the physical—about so-called “Cartesian dualism” in general—which have not been in any explicit or systematic way noticed or confronted. There are two primary problems I shall explore. They are both at least apparent inconsistencies in Descartes’ views. The first of them may be only a terminological inconsistency, and fairly easily resolved. The second is far more crucial, and not merely terminological. If it really is an inconsistency, then we must either abandon Cartesian dualism as hopelessly confused, or give up at least one of the Cartesian assertions that leads to the contradiction. I shall argue that there is a real inconsistency between a claim Descartes on one occasion makes and the rest of what he says or seems to say about persons, minds, the mental, and the physical—“Cartesian dualism”—but that this inconsistency is not fatal to Cartesian dualism. It is removed by suppressing the single isolated statement, and what remains is a coherent, consistent, and highly plausible view about persons and their states.
Keywords Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0046-8541
DOI 10.5840/idstudies1977715
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