This monograph presents an interpretation of Descartes's dualism, which differs from the standard reading called 'classical separatist dualism' claiming that the mind can exist without the body. It argues that, contrary to what it is commonly claimed, Descartes’s texts suggest an emergent creationist substance dualism, according to which the mind is a nonphysical substance (created and maintained by God), which cannot begin to think without a well-disposed body. According to this interpretation, God’s laws of nature endow each human body with the power to be united to an immaterial soul. While the soul does not directly come from the body, the mind can be said to emerge from the body in the sense that it cannot be created by God independently from the body. The divine creation of a human mind requires a well-disposed body, a physical categorical basis. This kind of emergentism is consistent with creationism and does not necessarily entail that the mind cannot survive the body.
This early modern view has some connections with Hasker’s substance emergent dualism (1999). Indeed, Hasker states that the mind is a substance emerging at one time from neurons and that consciousness has causal powers which effects cannot be explained by physical neurons. An emergent unified self-existing entity emerges from the brain on which it acts upon. For its proponents, Hasker’s view explains what Descartes’s dualism fails to explain, especially why the mind regularly interacts with one and only one body. After questioning the notion of emergence, the author argues that the theory of emergent creationist substance dualism that she attributes to Descartes is a more appropriate alternative because it faces fewer problems than its rivals.
This monograph is valuable for anyone interested in the history of early modern philosophy and contemporary philosophy of mind.
Introduction-Why substance dualism is not over.
Part I Challenging the Cartesian Mind Paradigm (completed)
Chapter 1 Descartes’s argument for substance dualism.
Chapter 2 The modal distinction between mind and imagination.
Chapter 3 Imagination as an essential property of the human mind.
Part II The Cartesian Human body and the emergence of the Self
Chapter 4 Notions of emergence.
Chapter 6 A ‘well disposed’ human body : Descartes’s emergent substance dualism.
Chapter 7 Two kinds of extension.
Dr Lynda Gaudemard is an Associate Researcher and Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Aix-Marseille (Aix-en-Provence) where she received her PhD in 2012. She is also Lay Assessor at the Juvenile Court (Marseille). She was Senior Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Geneva and Assistant Professor of philosophy at the University of Lausanne. She specializes in early modern philosophy with a focus on René Descartes. She is also author of articles on bioethics and children’s rights.