Avoiding Cartesian Materialism
This chapter explores the legacy of Descartes in attempting to understand the human mind, a legacy often referred to as Cartesian materialism. An account is given of the many ways in which Cartesian assumptions about human nature are embedded in most versions of physicalism. The chapter criticizes the tendency to substitute brain-body dualism for mind-body dualism, the assumption that emotion is opposed to rationality, and the idea of mental processes as occurring in an inner space — no longer the ‘Cartesian theater’ but nonetheless inside the head. In contrast, this chapter emphasizes that mind is embodied, not merely ‘embrained’, and that mental events must be understood as contextualized brain events.
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