Mind and Brain: Toward an Understanding of Dualism

  • Kristopher G. PhillipsEmail author
  • Alan Beretta
  • Harry A. Whitaker
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 6)


A post-Newtonian understanding of matter includes immaterial forces; thus, the concept of ‘physical’ has lost what usefulness it previously had and consequently Cartesian dualism has ceased to support a divide between the mental and the physical. A scientific understanding of mind that goes back at least as far as Priestley (eighteenth century) not only includes immaterial components but identifies brain parts in which these components correlate with neural activity. What are we left with? The challenge is not so much to figure out how a physical brain interacts with a nonphysical mind, but to try to unify theories of mind and theories of brain that to date do not share a single property. The challenge is enormous, but at least we can be quite clear about its nature, as there is no reason to be distracted by the idea of two distinct substances. In the present volume, several historical perspectives on the mind-body problem are discussed; we follow major currents of thought regarding the mind-body problem so that it can be seen how we arrived at our conception that it makes sense only to talk about theory unification.


Substance Dualism Animal Spirit Cartesian Dualism Cartesian Formulation Heroic Poetry 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristopher G. Phillips
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan Beretta
    • 2
  • Harry A. Whitaker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA

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