Mind-Body Interaction in Fundamental Dualism

Mind-Body Interaction in Fundamental Dualism

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

How did these two irreconcilable substances come together or interact with each other? For Descartes, the theological answer was that God created it that way. Therefore, Descartes and other theorists did not question this point too much.

However, the fact that these two irreconcilable substances actually coexisted in human existence and moreover, acted in full cooperation required a convincing explanation. Descartes’ explanation is called “interactionism”. This means: the mind wants, the body makes; The mind goes to meet a need of the body as well.

Since Descartes observed that the mind and body work harmoniously in the factual field, he was inevitably drawn to this kind of explanation. However, two irreconcilable approaches to substances really stuck Descartes in this regard: On the one hand, his application of the criterion of clarity and clarity in knowledge led him to emphasize that the distinction between soul and body is real, on the other hand, he avoided seeing the soul as a completely external and alien factor to the body. However, Arnauld draws the following conclusion from this dualistic substance approach that Descartes posits: Considering that Descartes initially proved his own existence as a mere thinking self (cogito), in other words, as long as we clearly perceive ourselves as a pure thinking being, From this it follows that nothing corporeal belongs to the essence of man, and man is therefore entirely spirit, while his body is the carrier of pure spirit. However, Descartes does not accept this situation.

In the sixth meditation in his Meditations, he stated that the ‘self’ is not in the body like a guide on the ship. For since God is not deceiving, “if nature teaches me that I have a body affected by pain and hunger and thirst, I cannot doubt that there is some truth in all this. But “Nature also does this pain, hunger, thirst, etc. he teaches me with his senses that I am not only present in my body as a guide is in a boat, but I am firmly united with him and so intertwined, as it were, that I seem to form a whole with him. Because if this were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, I am only a thinking being, should not feel pain and perceive this wound only with the understanding, just as the sailor perceives when something breaks in his boat” (cited in Copleston, 1996: 123). Descartes argues that the soul gradually joins the whole body. And at this point he talks about mutual interaction. Because the empirical data show that the soul is affected by the body and the body is affected by the soul, in this case they form a unity in a sense. For this reason, it is necessary to show exactly where and how this interaction takes place in the body.

Although the soul is in a sense joined to the whole body, it is one and indivisible in its structure; Descartes states that the soul performs its functions more clearly in a certain organ than in others, and that this organ is the brain. He also states that the soul performs its functions on the body, not in the whole of the brain, but in a very small and single gland called the pineal glans, and receives the effects coming from the body from this point. This gland is located in the middle of the brain, it is single in number, and it is possible for the soul, which is single in number and does not divide, to interact with the body only from here. The effects transmitted by the spirit to the gland through this gland move the vitality juices within the nerves and this movement is carried to the relevant tissues or organs; in the same way, when vitality juices carrying the effects from the body reach this gland, the gland is affected and transfers this effect to the soul. In this way, mutual interaction takes place. However, locating the point of interaction, telling how the interaction takes place, and whether it means that the relationship between an immaterial soul and a material body are explained satisfactorily have been constantly questioned. In fact, this explanation of Descartes was not found consistent in terms of the irreconcilable dualist understanding of substance: How can two substances that are mutually exclusive in terms of their structure come into contact with each other? Despite all the criticisms directed at him on this subject, Descartes did not back down from the interaction-interaction thesis. The Cartesian thinkers who followed him tried to solve this problem in their own way. But their explanations were not satisfactory to many people.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook