- Throughout history and pre- history, the majority view of humankind seems always to have been that there is more to a person than the body, and that an “afterlife”1 is possible because this “something more” — the soul or spirit — does not pass away with the death of the body. Many philosophers have agreed, developing various forms of mind- body dualism. Philosophical dualists such as Plato, Aquinas, and Descartes — and, more recently, Karl Popper, Richard Swinburne, and William Hasker — disagree about many details. But they have this much in common: they believe that, for every person who thinks or has experiences, there is a thing — a soul or spiritual substance — that lacks many or most of the physical properties characteristic of non- thinking material objects like rocks and trees; and that this soul is essential to the person, and in one way or another responsible for the person’s mental life.
- Nowadays, this view is often called “substance dualism,” and contrasted with various forms of “property dualism.” Property dualism is the idea that the mental properties of persons are significantly independent of, or in some other way distinct from, the physical properties of persons. The distinction between the two kinds of dualism allows for an intermediate view, the combination of property dualism with substance materialism. On this conception of what it is to be a human person, each of us is a material object — something that, ultimately, is made up entirely of parts that can be found in non- thinking things — but a material object with a special kind of properties — mental properties or states, varieties of feelings and thoughts — that are at least somewhat independent of our purely physical aspects. This combination of property dualism with substance materialism is sometimes called “the dual-aspect theory.”
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