The Evolution of Mind-Body Dualism

Topics: Materialism

Tomas Hobbes often draws a line between materialism and dualism. Dualism is a concept that illustrates the idea that our mind and body are entirely different kinds of things. Materialism is the perception that only matter exists, therefore there is no idea that soul and matter exist but just matter. The ideology of dualism and materialism has evolved from philosophers such as Plato, Saint Augustine, and Thomas Hobbes. The evolution of philosophy suggests that dualists, such as Saint Augustine, are wrong to believe that without a soul no thinking or any mental life is going on.

With this in mind, the concepts behind both philosophers begin to change drastically. Saint Augustine’s self-regulating narrative is based on God. All order comes from God and God is the only governing power. In conflict with this ideology, Thomas Hobbes’s self-regulating narrative means anarchy but his form of anarchy is democracy. Hobbes believes we need a sense of control over ourselves to get along and make correct choices.

As explained in The City of God, Saint Augustine divides men into two different kinds of categories those who are followers of God and those who follow their own will. In chapter fourteen in the City of God, he states, “There is, in fact, one city of men who choose to live by the standard of flesh, another of those who choose to live by the standard of the spirit” (Augustine 547). This supports his dualism ideology because instead of thinking of all men as equal he believes that a good soul makes a good man, whereas a corrupt soul makes up a bad man.

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Hobbes declines this ideology in Leviathan and states that he believes all men are competitive, selfish, and desire power. Chapter eleven of the Leviathan states, “The voluntary actions and inclinations of all men tend, not only to the procuring but also to the assuring of a contended life…” (Hobbes 57). Ultimately this supports his claims of materialism because he believes humans are only power-hungry and they are thinking with their brains rather than with their souls. Hobbes claims that we all aim for good in our ways and unmorally actions don’t count as bad as long as we end up happy. Augustine focused on original sin as a foundation of human nature, he believed that we are all inherently flawed therefore we need a higher being, such as God, to fix us. In the City of God, he states, “Corruption of the body, which weighs down the soul, is not the cause of the first sin, but its punishment” (Augustine 551).

Augustine shares similarities with Hobbes in the fact of understanding man. The difference between them is that Augustine uses the connections of Christianity and spirituality as a form of fixing humanity, whereas Hobbes used contracts of social order as many other philosophers, later on, began to adopt as well. Based on Augustine’s writing we are living in a falsehood if we do not follow God’s orders, “The point is that the falsehood is ours, but the truth is Gods” (Augustine 552). Therefore, we cannot fulfill a truthful life without the guidance of God according to Augustine. As for Hobbes, there is no good or bad way to live your life as long as you are happy and find your desires in the end. To further prove this point he states in Leviathan, “contented life, differ only in the way; which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions in diverse men, and partly from the difference of the knowledge or opinion of each one has of the causes which produce the effect of desire” (Hobbes 58). Further explanation of this quote is that there is no good or bad path when it comes to achieving your desires and we each have our way of trying to find happiness, so just because a person decides to gamble all of their money in exchange for more as appose to work for money does not make them a bad person. Moreover, Augustine’s philosophy will continue using God as almighty power and trying to convey that without God we will only fall into evil. According to the Philosophy of Education Society they state, “All these analogies describe situations wherein one thing depends for sustenance on an originating source: as the dependent thing becomes separated from that source, it is diminished” (Thompson 528). Explaining their article, it is argued that Augustine uses analogies that man will become corrupt if he does not obey God. Therefore, as he pushes himself further away from God’s truth, he diminishes the good that God had originally placed upon him when he was created.

In continuation on how Augustine views God the article goes on to state, “However, he also goes beyond that metaphor and asserts that while creation is dependent, God is not. God is only a source, never a recipient. Even though he is the source of creation’s good, he gives it nothing of his unique goodness or being but remains entirely in himself and loses nothing” (Thompson 529). God will always be the ultimate source for humankind and while man depends entirely on God for a sense of reason and purpose, God loses nothing when a man is either good or bad. Unlike the man who if he becomes disobeying God and decides to rely on himself, loses the ability to obtain true happiness and eternal happiness. Nevertheless, Hobbes’s philosophy evolves and changes the way Augustine referred to human nature as. According to Hobbes humans are just physical objects and due to us being physical objects there is a reason behind every desire we seek. For example, if a human experiences sensation they are only operating based on the nervous system of the human body. Hobbes acknowledges the fact that humans are like wild animals therefore we act only for ourselves and our self-interest. In support of this idea the article, Politics and life Sciences states, “Hobbes’s people are motivated solely by egotism and hedonism. They pursue pleasure and avoid pain for themselves; they have no sympathy with the pains and pleasures of others” (Miller 222). This supports the ideology that Hobbes thinks of humans and animals who only wish to have power for only themselves and care to feed their appetites. According to Hobbes, humans only recollect ideas and thoughts that are being brought forward by our minds and our perceptions.

As a continuation of Hobbes’s theory of human nature, the journal of theoretical humanities states, “All individuals have an equal capacity to kill one another—self-preservation must, therefore, be an overriding concern. Human beings are competitive, at odds with one another in terms of power and desire” (Johnson 68). Agreeing to the concept that all human beings in the eyes of Hobbes are all seeking powers whether it be in riches, honor, and loyalty everyone wishes to achieve all of these goals and sometimes would even kill each other to achieve their goals. Human Nature needs a sense of authority to successfully bond together. The evolution between both Saint Augustine and Hobbes is that for Augustine a person can only be governed by God and if they do not follow scripture, they will not be good and will descend into evil. As stated, God is the source of government according to Augustine. In Augustine’s City of God, he states, “God gave it that true freedom, and now that it has been lost, through its fault, it can be restored only by him who had the power to give it at the beginning” (Augustine 569). To describe his writing, according to Augustine if a man sins, he cannot be cleansed by himself and there is no other way to replenish his sins unless he gives himself entirely to God in scripture and spirit. As time progresses philosophers later discovered the ability of humans and started to agree that for people to get along and live peacefully, they must all acquire a commonwealth and have one sense of authority over them to guide them and tell them what to do. In the Leviathan Hobbes states, “Desire of ease and sensual delight disposeth men to obey a common power, because by such desires a man doth abandon the protection might be hoped for from his industry and labor” (Hobbes 58).

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The Evolution of Mind-Body Dualism. (2022, Apr 27). Retrieved from

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