THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM

One Gives Rise to Two

Nash Popovic profile image

Written by Dr. Nash Popovic

There is another way to deal with the problem of causation, commonly known as dual aspect theory originally espoused by philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677). It ascertains that mind and matter are both manifest aspects of a more fundamental property of nature, which appear to interact by virtue of some unfolding, grounding process within nature itself.

So, the experiential aspect is inseparable from its physical correlate, but neither of them can be analysed in terms of the other. Renowned physicist Wolfgang Pauli, for example, finds this position appealing

It would be most satisfactory of all if physis and psyche could be seen as complementary aspects of the same reality. (Jung and Pauli, 1955, p.210)

A consequence of this perspective is that everything, including objects such as a stone or stick, has both a mental and a physical aspect. A modern version of this view is developed by David Chalmers, who claims that the fundamental feature behind mind and matter is information. Some objections to this view can be raised too:

  • Dual-aspect theory seems more an attempt to avoid the problem than to solve it. Let us consider information, as Chalmers proposes. An often mischievously overlooked issue is that ontological status is given to an essentially epistemological concept. This is hard to spot because it is so widespread nowadays. For example, we say ‘genetic information’ – but genes, or for that matter, computers or books do not contain information. Genes contain some chemicals, books contain blots of

This post is for members only. To keep the site free from ads, we ask for a one-off payment which will give you access to all the Synthesis materials.

Already have an account? Sign in