Philosophy

Research Article

Substance Dualism Fortified

N. M. L. Nathana1 c1

a1 University of Liverpool University of Birmingham

You have a body, but you are a soul or self. Without your body, you could still exist. Your body could be and perhaps is outlasted by the immaterial substance which is your soul or self. Thus the substance dualist. Most substance dualists are Cartesians. The self, they suppose, is essentially conscious: it cannot exist unless it thinks or wills or has experiences. In this paper I sketch out a different form of substance dualism. I suggest that it is not consciousness but another immaterial feature which is essential to the self, a feature in one way analogous to a non-dispositional taste. Each self has moreover a different feature of this general kind. If this is right then simple and straightforward answers are available to some questions which prove troublesome to the Cartesian, consciousness-requiring type of substance dualist. I mean the questions, How can the self exist in dreamless sleep?, What distinguishes two simultaneously existing selves, and What makes a self the same self as a self which exists at some other time?

(Online publication March 25 2011)

N.M.L. Nathan is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the Universities of Liverpool and Birmingham. He is the author of Will and World (Oxford University Press, 1992) and The Price of Doubt (Routledge, 2000).