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Cartesian dualism

the position taken by René Descartes that the world comprises two distinct and incompatible classes of substance: res extensa, or extended substance, which extends through space; and res cogitans, or thinking substance, which has no extension in space. The body (including the brain) is composed of extended and divisible substance, whereas the mind is not. For Descartes, this means that the mind would continue to exist even if the material body did not. He accepted that there is interaction between mind and body, holding that in some activities the mind operates independently of bodily influences, whereas in others the body exerts an influence. Similarly, in some bodily activities there is influence from the mind, whereas in others there is not. Descartes proposed that the locus for the interaction of the mind and body is the point in the pineal gland in the brain termed the conarium. However, to the question of how such incompatible substances can interact at all, Descartes had no answer. See dualism; ghost in the machine; mind–body problem.

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Psychology term of the day

June 16th 2024



abbreviation for Tay–Sachs disease.