Abstract

Descartes’s mind-body union is usually examined in light of the metaphysical problems that arise from his radical distinction between thinking substance and extended substance; the common question is whether or not it really helps to conceive of the way the immaterial mind acts upon the body and vice versa. The aim of this paper is to provide a positive answer regarding the mind>body relation, by means of an analysis whose starting point is Malebranche’s so-called “knowledge argument.” (How could we move our limbs as long as we do not know what must be done in order to do so?) I show that if there is no “knowledge problem” for Descartes, it is because of mind-body union, which enables the mind to act upon the body in such a way that it does not have to satisfy Malebranche’s conditions for mental causation, nor those that give rise to the traditional problem of interaction between substances as distinct in nature as mind and body. My demonstration rests on a new use of the pilot-and-ship model, one that undermines the view that there is no experience of mind-body union.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 207-219
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-29
Open Access
No
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