The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

Donald V. Poochigian
Pages 186-191

To Resurrect a Ghost
In Defence of Psychological Dualism

Cartesian dualism has largely been replaced by empirical theories of the mind. Central to this development is Gilbert Ryle’s criticism of an immaterial ‘ghost’ inhabiting the material ‘machine’ of the body. A metaphysical self is incredible, and even if it is credible, both it and its manifestation in phenomenal experience are unknowable by others. Failure of this approach occurs when it is realized that existence of the physical is just as incredible as existence of the metaphysical. Free will is also inconceivable without the assumption of a metaphysical self, it being the ‘ghost in the machine’ after all. As for consciousness, it is presupposed by the empirical. What counts as physical manifestations of mind are the effects or causes of phenomenal experience. Without this criterion the individual is a unity, it being impossible to separate the psychological since effectively it encompasses every aspect of the individual. Additionally, it is in phenomenal experience that the empirical is observed, and observation is the basis of empirical verification. To advocate the scientific method of intersubjective verification while denying the existence or significance of the phenomenal is inconsistent. At root, the mental attributes are ontologically distinct. Limited to only one ontological substance, empiricists either redefine or exclude troublesome attributes, commiting the error of confusing distinct kinds of substances. Dualism can accommodate all of the properties of mind in a single coherent theory by acknowledging these kinds of substances.