Monday, July 10, 2017




D. R. Khashaba

I am unhappy with the current usage of the terms Dualism and Monism. The tern ‘dualism’ derives from Descartes’s division of all things into two separate substances, an extended substance (matter) and a thinking substance (mind, soul). Materialists who hold that the extended substance is all there is were referred to as Monists, implying that there is no such thing as mind. Advocates of the reality of the mind fell into the trap and called themselves Dualists. This was unwise. The moment you take mind for a separate substance you have opened the gates to the materialist hordes. They can easily show that mind does not satisfy any of the criteria of objective existence. Ergo there is no mind.

A defensible Idealism must maintain that there is no mind without objective content and there is no matter without subjective support. In our daily life and equally in our scientific studies we deal with objects of which we can only observe the outer husk. This suits science perfectly. But all the objects in the world outside us that we deal with in our practical life and in our scientific studies have no meaning in themselves. They only obtain meaning from the patterns in which the mind clothes them. (Plato’s forms, Kant’s concepts of the Understanding). This, as I said, suits science perfectly. Science owes its astounding achievements to this limitation, namely, that it has to do with the outside of things. Yet a philosopher wonders: these objects that only have borrowed meaning thanks to the mind, how can they have being at all. Philosophers advance various scenarios to solve the puzzle: Spinoza’s one substance where natura naturata is inseperable of natura naturans; Leibniz’ monads; Berkeley making all things percepts in the mind of God; Schopenhauer making all things representations of the universal Will — these are examples of the philosophers’ ‘justification’ of the bare existence of things.

In all my writings I abstain from using the term ‘dualism’. I hold that only what is whole is real; to understand anyting we have to see it as a whole. Pace Plato, I am not a body and a soul: I am one integral person. Since I am a particular, determinate being, I am not a perfect whole; my being depends on things outside my person. On the physical plane I am a physical object subject to the laws of physics. On the biological plane I am an animal sharing the characteristics of a rat or a sheep. On the intellectual plane I am a thinking, problem-solving creature, characteristics which I share with a chimpanzee or a squirrel. But then I have being on the spiritual (metaphysical) plane: on this plane I am a moral, creative person, characteristics which, to my knowledge, I share only with other human beings. I do not say that on this plane I have a soul (mind); on this plane I am my soul, I am my mind.

Thus to the question: Do you have a soul (mind)? I answer: No, I do not have a soul because a soul is not a thing to be had in the sense of possessed.

Let us take an example that is easier to comprehend. I can see; I have the power of sight. If you ask me: Do you have sight? I will answer, No, for sight is not a thing that can be possessed and entered into the log of my possessions; but I am a seeing creature, I exercise the power of sight.

Similarly, if you ask me: Do you have a soul (mind)? I answer: No, since a soul is not the kind of thing to be possessed, but I have being on the metaphysical plane. On the metaphysical plane I love, I rejoice, I enjoy beauty, I create philosophical views. When the materialist (empiricist, positivist, physicalist) says to me: You don’t have a soul, I reply: My good sir, what you say is perhaps truer than you know, but what you mean by what you are saying is grossly erroneous. I do not have a soul: I am my soul; my soul is my inner reality and the whole of my worth. My soul is I on the metaphysical plane.

D. R. Khashaba

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