Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 4, No 1 (2010)

Dueling over Dualism

Frederick Ferré
Issued Date: 19 Mar 2010


Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro in Naturalism (2008), and Chet Raymo in When God is Gone Everything is Holy (2008), take opposite views on the virtues of dualism, particularly regarding the immaterial soul and the material body. Goetz and Taliaferro hit hard at the implausibility of strict naturalism’s reduction of mind to brain, sharply criticizing broad naturalism’s difficulties with free, normative, value-led, personal action. If the choice is between the immaterial soul and naturalist denials and reductions, they defend dualism. Chet Raymo, as a scientist, loves nature and empirical method too much to accept the need for any other realm or way of knowing. If the choice is between modest intellectual integrity and dogmatic obscurantism, he rejects dualism. I reply that these are false choices: Whitehead’s mental and physical ‘duality’ in his bipolar cosmology trumps the need for ‘dualism’ without requiring denial of effective mentality and free personal action.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.v4i1.72


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