Kant’s Perspectival Solution to the Mind-Body Problem

Culture and Dialogue 4 (1):194-213 (2016)

Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kant’s Critical philosophy solves Descartes’ mind-body problem, replacing the dualism of the “physical influx” theory he defended in his early career. Kant’s solution, like all Critical theories, is “perspectival,” acknowledging deep truth in both opposing extremes. Minds are not separate from bodies, but a manifestation of them, each viewed from a different perspective. Kant’s transcendental conditions of knowledge portray the mind not as creating the physical world, but as necessarily structuring our knowledge of objects with a set of unconscious assumptions; yet our pre-conscious encounter with an assumed spatio-temporal, causal nexus is entirely physical. Hence, today’s “eliminative materialism” and “folk psychology” are both ways of considering this age-old issue, neither being an exclusive explanation. A Kantian solution to this version of the mind-body problem is: eliminative materialism is good science; but only folk psychologists can consistently be eliminative materialists. Indeed, the mind-body problem exemplifies a feature of all cultural situations: dialogue between opposing perspectives is required for understanding as such to arise.
Keywords mind-body problem   neurophilosophy   eliminative materialism  Immanuel Kant   perspectives
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DOI 10.1163/24683949-12340010
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