The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Mon Feb 1, 2016
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Chris Meyns (Cambridge University)
Extended Souls

Do souls extend in space? Early modern philosophers are divided on this issue. Some, such as Hobbes, say that souls must be extended. Others, such as Descartes, maintain that they cannot be. What drives this disagreement? While it is easy to seek it in disputes about the nature of the soul, such as whether souls are material or not, here I show that this proposal faces difficulties. Instead I defend a wider framework. I demonstrate how different accounts of space—what would now be identified as substantivalism vs. relationalism—may restrict the kinds of things can be extended. In this way, the early modern study of the mind gets shaped by commitments in natural philosophy.