Wednesday

Dualists lack spirit

If dualism is true, how would it affect human nature?

Dualists believe that there are “two different types of reality: material and mental” (225). The material, which is represented by the body, takes up three dimensional spaces and the mental, or the mind, does not. Physical bodies have shape; “mental entities” do not (226). At some point the physical and the mental must interact in response to stimuli or physical events; this is called “dualistic interactionism” (226).

Philosopher Rene Descartes’ concluded that he (meaning his being) was essentially a mind (229). “According to Descartes, three kinds of objects or substances exist in the universe: (1) the eternal substance, God; (2) his creation in terms of mind; (3) his creation in terms of matter.” Human beings are made up of the last two elements.

What this theory lacks is the essence of the individual. If human beings are merely “minds” from where do our personalities come? What makes us unique? If Descartes thought that humans are comprised of only of body and mind and that “the mind interacts only with the brain,” what happens when a person commits an act and feels that what he or she did was wrong (230)? Is this guilt feeling part of the mind or the body? In the incident, the mind told the body to perform the offensive act. From where does guilt come? Can the mind be divided into subsections or is there a third party, a conscience or the spirit of a person, involved? Can we truly have free will if the body merely follows the commands of the mind? Is this why humans are depraved according to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Pojman used the example of the mind and body interacting when a person steps on a nail. If the person is merely reacting to the stimulus of pain (or the C fiber reacting) then why do some individuals use expressions in the vernacular. Typically, if one is just reacting with the mind to pain, one would probably just grunt or cry. What causes someone to scream curses or obscenities and to berate the person who left the nail on the floor in the first place? There must be a third “party” involved. This “party” is the spirit. We are not a bunch of minds reacting to bodily stimuli. If we were then we would be no better than animals. As humans we feel complex emotions; we feel pain, anger, hurt, love, affection and joy.

If dualism is true then the human race is no better than the animal world. We could not think for ourselves, we could not feel opposite emotions in the face of negative stimuli (such as love for enemies). If dualism were true God would not be able to reward us or punish us because we would not be in control of our actions.