CARTESIAN DUALISM AND PLOTINUS' PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
Concept philosophy religion culture
In this paper my intention is to tackle a few issues concerning some interpretations of Plotinus' "philosophy of mind". Firstly, I will address the validity of the idea that Plotinus was "the first Cartesian", advocated by John Dillon and E.K. Emilsson. The idea has been mostly defended on the assumption that Plotinus had anticipated the substance dualism. However, the mind-body dualism evident in Plotinus' philosophy is in no way identical or similar to the Cartesian, since the basic premises
... the basic premises of Plotinus' metaphysics do not make room for such notions. Another argument is the philosophical use of introspection by both Plotinus and Descartes. However, I would argue that it is exactly the way of employing the method of introspection what introduces a big difference between the two philosophers. Secondly, I will address the idea of Plotinus as a herald of post-Cartesian non-reductionist notions on the mind-body relationship. I argue that Plotinus and his theory of consciousness cannot be interpreted as a variation of the non-reductionst theories, since Plotinus' "philosophy of mind" in a way transcends the scope of the reductionists vs non-reductionists debates. In fact, non-reductionists share more similarities to Cartesian views, than Plotinus'. Hence comparing Plotinus' philosophy to post-Cartesian non-reductionism does not differ much from comparing it to Cartesian dualism. The conclusion of the paper is that philosophy of mind can find studying Plotinus' philosophy very rewarding. However, in paying attention to Plotinus and ancient philosophers in general, we should not miss to pay attention to the scientific and philosophical paradigms of our time that condition the way we approach a problem and anticipate a possible solution to it.