‘A Compound Wholly Mortal’: Locke and Newton on the Metaphysics of Immortality


Authors
Liam P. Dempsey
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Abstract
In this paper I consider a cluster of positions which depart from the immortalist and dualist anthropologies of Rene Descartes and Henry More. In particular, I argue that John Locke and Isaac Newton are attracted to a monistic mind-body metaphysics, which while resisting neat characterization, occupies a conceptual space distinct from the dualism of the immortalists, on the one hand, and thoroughgoing materialism of Thomas Hobbes, on the other. They propound a sort of property monism: mind and body are distinct, with distinct characteristics and functions, but are, nevertheless, ontologically interdependent. Consciousness ? the locus of personhood, and thus, a necessary condition for personal immortality ? is an embodied phenomenon; its preservation requires the life and proper functioning of the body. Dying with the dissolution of his body, then, man is a compound wholly mortal. Nevertheless, both Locke and Newton accepted the possibility of personal immortality; with Hobbes, both looked to the Biblical promise of bodily resurrection. For with the re-vitalization of the body ? and a subsequent restoration of consciousness and memory ? personal identity is preserved, even beyond the grave
Keywords Locke  Newton  Hobbes  Descartes  mortalism  immortality  consciousness
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.555161
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References found in this work BETA

Descartes' Physiology and its Relation to His Psychology.Gary Hatfield - 1992 - In John Cottingham (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Descartes. Cambridge University Press. pp. 335--370.
Newton's Metaphysics.Howard Stein - 2002 - In The Cambridge Companion to Newton. Cambridge University Press. pp. 256--307.
.Donald Rutherford - 1993 - Penn St Univ Pr.
Knowledge of God in Leviathan.Stewart Duncan - 2005 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 22 (1):31-48.

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Citations of this work BETA

John Locke, ‘Hobbist’: Of Sleeping Souls and Thinking Matter.Liam P. Dempsey - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):454-476.
Materialism in Late Enlightenment Germany: A Neglected Tradition Reconsidered.Falk Wunderlich - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (5):940-962.

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