Assessing Substance Dualism
First it is important we establish what a substance actually is before we can venture into substance dualism itself. Substances are traditionally understood as an entity that doesn’t rely on another entity to exist. Now in substance dualism there are two types of substances, material substances (body) and mental substances (mind). Substance dualists such a Descartes would claim that the mind does not depend on the body in order to exist. So it is possible for the mind to be separated from the body.
In Phaedo, Plato argued that death is the separation of the soul from the body. We must remember that Plato believed that the soul is the mind. He first pointed out that the soul was indestructible as they don’t have any parts to be broken and destruction requires breaking something into parts. However we can object to Plato’s idea by bringing in another type of destruction, annihilation. This would not require breaking into any parts.
Similarly Descartes argued the same, the indivisibility argument. That the mind did not have any ‘parts’ unlike the body whose essential property was to have parts, hence why it is physically possible for us to lose limbs. He argued that the essential parts of the mind were thoughts. He believed that since both the mind and the body have entirely different properties they are entirely different things.
However this idea could be objected due to the existence of cases such as multiple personalities, doesn’t this show that the mind could perhaps be divided? It was also found that some aspects of the mind cannot communicate with other aspects of the mind. Freud talks of how our desires can vary from our conscious desires and our unconscious desires, doesn’t this again show that the there is some sort of divide within the mind? Yes this doesn’t prove that the mind is spatially divisible but it does show that there may be a sense of “parts” within the mind that Descartes dismisses. However it isn’t over for...