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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.001.0001

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Descartes on the Mind–Body Union

Descartes on the Mind–Body Union

A Different Kind of Dualism

(p.83) 3 Descartes on the Mind–Body Union
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII

Minna Koivuniemi

Edwin Curley

Oxford University Press

What does the mind–body union consist in for Descartes? At a minimum, causal interaction between mind and body. But also in a certain experience of the body with which we’re united, which inclines us to locate bodily sensations as occurring in it, not in the mind. Hence, we mistakenly identify ourselves with that body. The phenomenology of mind–body interaction, also manifested in the mind’s control of the body, explains Descartes’ doctrine that the whole of the mind is united with the whole body. The chapter takes the principal alternative interpretation to be the view developed by Paul Hoffman that Descartes accepted the scholastic theory that the soul is the substantial form of the body. It argues that Hoffman’s view misunderstands the texts, and fails to appreciate how untenable Pomoponnazi’s treatise On the Immortality of the Soul had made an Aristotelian interpretation of the mind–body relation.

Keywords:   mind–body union, mind–body interaction, phenomenology, bodily sensations, immortality, soul, René Descartes, Pietro Pomponnazzi, Paul Hoffman

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