Volume 4, Issue 1, Spring 2015
Mysterious Mixtures: Descartes on Mind and Body
As is well known, Descartes’ doctrine on the relations of mind and body involves at least the following two theses: (i) the real distinction of mind and body is compatible with their substantial union; and (ii) the siting of the mind at the tip of the pineal gland is compatible with its presence throughout the body. Th is essay seeks to perform three main tasks. One is to suggest that, so far as Descartes is concerned, the doctrine that arises out of the combination of (i) and (ii) blocks off the problems that are alleged to arise for mind-body interaction. A second is to illustrate how, in a certain vision of Descartes’ thought, (i) and (ii) are more closely connected to each other than is generally explicitly recognised. And a third is to illustrate how one grade of mixture of stuff-types that the ancient Stoics envisaged both provides a model for answering Descartes’ demands and has a reputable pedigree within the tradition to which he was heir.