Erkenntnistheoretischer Dualismus

History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 10:113-136 (2007)
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The dominant position in current debates on the mind-body problem is some version of physicalism, according to which the mind is reducible to the brain and mental phenomena are ultimately explainable in physical terms. But there seems to be an explanatory gap between physicalistic descriptions of neuronal processes and the subjectivity of conscious experience. Some dualists conclude that, therefore, consciousness must be ontologically distinct from any physical properties or entities. This article introduces and argues for a different perspective on these issues, namely, an epistemological dualism - a nonreductive position which is neither a version of physicalism nor an ontological dualism. It is argued that Kant holds this epistemological dualism implicitly as a consequence of his critical epistemology. On the one hand, he stresses the explanatory gap between the mental and the physical. On the basis of his theory of subjectivity set out in the Transcendental Deduction, Kant provides an explanation for why the gap cannot be closed empirically, as the physicalist promises. On the other hand, in his criticism of Descartes’ dualism in the Paralogismschapter, Kant argues that an ontological conclusion on the basis of this epistemological gap is unjustified even though physicalism is explanatory inadequate to account for consciousness. Thus, this epistemological dualism can be seen as an original third way between physicalist reductionism and ontological dualism

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Tobias Schlicht
Ruhr-Universität Bochum


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