There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.

Also known as Benchley’s Law of Distinction, this quote is due to Robert Benchley, US actor, author, and humourist (1889 – 1945). Benchley was a dualist.

Benchley was a dualist about kinds of people, but you can be a dualist about anything. “There are two kinds of …” Just fill in the dots.

Dualism usually refers to dualism in the philosophy of mind and it usually refers to substance dualism (also known as Cartesian dualism).

In philosophy of mind, dualism is [a view] about the relationship between mind and matter, which claims that mind and matter are two ontologically separate categories. In particular, mind-body dualism claims that neither the mind nor matter can be reduced to each other in any way, and thus is opposed to materialism in general, and reductive materialism in particular. Mind-body dualism can exist as substance dualism which claims that the mind and the body are composed of a distinct substance, and as property dualism which claims that there may not be a distinction in substance, but that mental and physical properties are still categorically distinct, and not reducible to each other. This type of dualism is sometimes referred to as “mind and body” and stands in contrast to philosophical monism, which views mind and matter as being ultimately the same kind of thing. …

If you think that mind can be “reduced” to matter (as I do) then you are not a dualist, you are a monist. If you think that matter is made of mind (as Tim does) then you are also not a dualist, you are a monist. Either way, you think that, ultimately, there is only one kind of stuff of which man’s mind is made.

Descartes, after whom Cartesian dualism is named, is famous for the phrase, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ There’s another phrase he used in Meditations on First Philosophy. It is ‘clear and distinct idea.’

Furthermore, my mind is me, for the following reason. I know that I exist and that nothing else belongs to my nature or essence except that I am a thinking thing; from this it follows that my essence consists solely in my being a thinking thing, even though there may be a body that is very closely joined to me. I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as something that thinks and isn’t extended, and one of body as something that is extended and does not think. So it is certain that I am really distinct from my body and can exist without it.

‘Clear and distinct’ is on a par with ‘self-evident’. An idea that’s clear and distinct to one person may be unclear and indistinct to another. And I don’t think much of Cartesian dualism. But I mention this phrase because it summarises two things (there are others) I think every philosopher should aspire to.

(1) Being clear.
(2) Distinguishing between distinct things.

This post is apropos of nothing in particular.

5 thoughts on “Dualism”

  1. Tim, well spotted!

    What I said was not actually what I meant to say. So I added “of which man’s mind is made” to the end of the sentence.

    Descartes said, “my mind is me … my essence consists solely in my being a thinking thing.” Do you agree that you are your mind? If not, then in what does your essence consist?

    We can build machines that think.

  2. I think of the mind as an information processor.

    I agree with Ray Kurzweil, who says, “You are, I am, a pattern of information.” That being the case, it doesn’t matter whether the pattern is a pattern in a material substance or a pattern in an immaterial substance. As Kurzweil adds, “We’re not a bunch of stuff.”

  3. Glen Peoples is yet another ‘Credentialed’ Theologian who has been ‘Educated’ in the modern Bible- rejecting schools, thus It would be a surprised if he did not take the Materialist/ atheist position regarding the Nature of man… the Non-Spiritual ‘Scientific’/mundane position.

    Now you ‘Educated’ types love to conveniently box things so that in your minds if you can defeat that Box, then you think you have defeated the Idea… the problem is you love to force fit inconvenient things … thus you delude yourselves thereby.

    This is what you do with Dualism… You make ‘Day Cart’ into a box… ‘Cartesian Dualism’… and think that if you can defeat Him, you have defeated the concept of Dualism.
    Yet Dualism is not his Idea.
    Let me quote two passages from this link:

    “Dualism is an ancient concept that was deeply rooted in Greek thought. However, long before that, the ancient scriptures taught that mankind was made in God’s image and that Adam needed the spirit breathed into him before becoming a living soul. Almost 2000 years after Plato and Aristotle reasoned that the human mind or soul could not be identified with the physical body, Rene Descartes reinforced this concept and gave it a name, dualism. The word “Cartesius” is simply the Latin form of the name Descartes. Consequently, Cartesian dualism is simply Descartes concept of dualism.”

    There you have it in a nutshell… how Day cart became the target of the Materialist atheists.

    The Link continues…
    “This concept is difficult to accept for those with a secular humanist, materialist, and evolutionist worldview because accepting it is accepting supernaturalism. Consequently, Bible believers accept dualism and people with the opposite worldview find themselves obligated to reject it. ”

    There you have the Two sides of the argument succinctly defined.
    Clearly it is Atheism vs Theism.
    Spiritualism vs Materialism.
    Or Modern ‘Educated’ Retreat vs Classic Faith/Bible believing Theism.
    Look at what a Fellow of Glen Peoples says… another ‘Educated Philosopher of religion’ Matt Flannagan …about the Miracles of Moses re: the Exodus.

    Quote: “I think this misreads the old testament, God does not typically do miracles in the old testament. There are some miraclous events around the exodus plaques( though much of this could be simply natural phenomena)…”

    Note how he attempts to deny the Miraculous/ Spiritual reality by saying that the Plagues could be explained as Natural phenomena. Why this need to ‘Naturalize’ the scriptures if not to accommodate the Atheist world view (which You Richard, Glenn, and Matt all been ‘Educated’ to think is more valid than classical theism) … which is a denial of Miracles… and a denial of Spiritual Reality.
    Now No doubt Matt will be able to come up with countless examples of Old superstitions believed by Olde time religion…that have been overturned by modern science, yet still that cannot undo My ‘Unlearned’ accusation against you Modern Bible skeptics… whom have reduced the scriptures to Myth and ignorance and retreat from everything spiritual and miraculous… You worship the God of Atheism ‘Science’…alias…Matter!

    I make the point that no matter what arguements are leveled against Day Cart they cannot undo the classical Bible believers Dualism… which does not rest upon him at all. (And do not think fro a minute that I am suggesting Day Cart has been undone either! I know how extremely wild and unscientific the materialist position is!) It is utter whim! the hell bent desire to reduce everything to Godless matter.
    This is why atheists Mock Theism with its ‘God of the gaps’. It is you ‘Educated types’ whom have utterly thrown down your swords and run away like cowards crying “We are evolutionists!”

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