A philosophical archive for the constructive study of substance dualism: www.newdualism.org.


Generative Dualism

The fundamental idea for 'Generative Dualism' is that, where there are two discrete degrees 'mind' and 'body':

  1. The dispositional features (propensities) of the body are generated (derived, produced) from the actions of dispositions of the mind.
  2. The range of which mental dispositions can act is constrained by previous actions of the bodily propensities. Subsequent mental dispositions are thus effectively limited by the outcome of previous bodily dispositions.

In the language of causation:
the 'mind' is the principal cause: the power or initiating propensity,
the 'body' is the instrumental cause: that by means of which the principal cause operates.

The events in the body depend on the propensities there, and also on the events in the corresponding positions in the mental degree. What goals and propensities are present depend on the past actualities/outcomes.

There is thus an appearance of bi-directional interaction between all degrees, but this is always based on a principle of Conditional Forward Production:

`The propensities at any stage are those derivatives of preceding propensities or dispositions which accord with what is already actual in that stage'.

The processes at any stage are again the joint production of `Principal Causation' from the preceding propensities, and of `Instrumental Causation' from which effects are already actual. Only in the instrumental sense can events ever said to be causally efficacious.

 

Are minds and bodies separate substances, on this account?

Yes: they are two substances which may be distinguished from each other, though the activity in the body always depends on dispositions in the mind, and though the perpetuation of definite mental forms depends on past activities of the body.

If we take substances to be defined as propensities in particular forms, then mind and body are indeed distinct substances.

The mind and body are not homogeneously continuous with other: not continuously transformable one into another. Rather, they are 'contiguous' with each other: where the mind ends its action is where the body begins its new propensities.

This is the barest sketch of a theory.
For a few more details, see the summary of principles, and the papers on the page above.


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