Sāṃkhya-Yoga Philosophy and the Mind-Body Problem

Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India 124 (1):232-242 (2019)
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The relationship between the physical body and the conscious human mind has been a deeply problematic topic for centuries. Physicalism is the 'orthodox' metaphysical stance in contemporary Western thought, according to which reality is exclusively physical/material in nature. However, in the West, theoretical dissatisfaction with this type of approach has historically lead to Cartesian-style dualism, wherein mind and body are thought to belong to distinct metaphysical realms. In the current discussion I compare and contrast this standard Western approach with an alternative form of dualism developed in the Sāṃkhya-Yoga philosophical tradition, where matter and pure consciousness are held to belong to distinct and independent realms, but where the mind is placed on the material side of the ontological divide. I argue that this model possesses a number of theoretical advantages over Cartesian-style dualism, and constitutes a compelling theoretical framework for re-conceptualizing the mind-body problem.

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Paul Schweizer
University of Edinburgh


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