Social Philosophy and Policy


David S.  Oderberg  a1
a1 Philosophy, University of Reading, England

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To the extent that dualism is even taken to be a serious option in contemporary discussions of personal identity and the philosophy of mind, it is almost exclusively either Cartesian dualism or property dualism that is considered. The more traditional dualism defended by Aristotelians and Thomists, what I call hylemorphic dualism, has only received scattered attention. In this essay I set out the main lines of the hylemorphic dualist position, with particular reference to personal identity. First I argue that overemphasis of the problem of consciousness has had an unhealthy effect on recent debate, claiming instead that we should emphasize the concept of form. Then I bring in the concept of identity by means of the notion of substantial form. I continue by analyzing the relation between form and matter, defending the traditional theses of prime matter and of the unicity of substantial form. I then argue for the immateriality of the substantial form of the human person, viz. the soul, from an account of the human intellect. From this follows the soul's essential independence of matter. Finally, although the soul is the immaterial bearer of personal identity, that identity is still the identity of an essentially embodied being. I explain how these ideas are to be reconciled.


a I am grateful to Stephen Braude, John Cottingham, John Haldane, David Jehle, Joel Katzav, Eduardo Ortiz, and Fred Sommers for helpful comments and discussion of a draft of this essay. I would also like to thank Ellen Paul, whose suggestions have helped greatly to improve the essay's style and content.