Objections to Descartes’ Interactionism

1431 WordsJul 9, 20186 Pages
In the following essay I will be offering some objections to Descartes’ interactionism as is primarily represented in his works The Passions of the Soul, Part I and Correspondence with Princess Elisabeth, Concerning the Union of Mind and Body. I will start by describing the basic features of how Descartes’ notion of interactionism works. Namely, that the pineal gland is the “principle seat” of the mind because it is the only singular part of the brain. The pineal gland also has a range of movements, which correspond to the body and to the soul to the capacity that it can be ‘thrusted’ by either the soul or the animal spirits. After describing Descartes’ interactionism, I will offer three objections that I view to provide…show more content…
When it comes to Descartes reply, in the Passions of the Soul he uses the word ‘impulse’ when describing the movements of the pineal gland and gives the impression that many of these impulses would be very slight and thus unnoticeable due to the fact that they only occur if the opposite impulse (from either the soul or the animal spirits) is stronger than itself (Passions, 366). This leads me to believe he would respond to the first objection by saying something to the effect of the movements or impulses being so small they are undetectable (at least by the technology available to him). My second objection applies to the plausibility of a causal interaction between an immaterial soul and a material brain under the currently accepted laws of physics and more specifically of the law of the conservation of energy. As it is understood, energy is neither created nor destroyed. If this is the case, when the immaterial mind causally interacts with the material pineal gland, where does this energy come from? This energy is not simply created for that would be against the laws of physics. If it is not created though, it must be coming from somewhere and is likely being stored in a similar place. The answer does not occur to me to describe where an immaterial mind would store its energy so as to causally interact with a material brain. Descartes’ possible reply to this might come from The Passions of the Soul in where he describes the soul as being
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