A Hylomorphic Interpretation of Descartes's Theory of Mind-Body Union

Abstract
I contend that Descartes’s view of mind-body union is not a Platonic view in which the soul uses the body as its vehicle, but hylomorphic in that mind and body form a single unit. I argue that Descartes’s view is most like Ockham’s, and therefore Descartes is entitled to maintain a hylomorphic theory to the same extent that Ockham is. I argue further that the soul is the substantial form of human being, and that mind and body are incomplete substances that are substantially united to form the human substance. Finally, I address Descartes’s claim that the whole soul has its principle seat in the pineal gland, and conclude that this does not imply a Platonic view as one might suspect. This hylomorphic interpretation avoids the problem of mind-body interaction, which might be seen as preventing the possibility of the soul’s immortality, because an explanation of the behavior of one entity is required instead of an explanation of the interaction between two, apparently incompatible, entities
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Conference Proceedings  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0065-7638
DOI 10.5840/acpaproc2001752
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