Emergent dualism is a solution to the brain damage problem for substance dualism. It states that the mind is a substance that arises from certain configurations of matter (such as the brain). And when the brain is damaged, the mind is also affected since it depends on the configuration of the matter of the brain.

My question is, does this classify as interactionist dualism? Because it doesn't seem at first sight.

2 Answers 2


All mind-body theories have to account for interaction between mind and body. Interaction in, say neural identity theory -- is the problem of how the mental events are even related to the physical.

Emergence theories, whether property emergence or substance emergence -- will have to account for interaction. They also will have to explain EMERGENCE, which is a second type of interaction.

So -- yes an emergent substance dualism would be an interactive dualism.


If the mind arises from matter, then reality is still consisting of physicalism, just of a different kind: source physicalism.

Source physicalism does not deny mental states or non physical things. But it does state that any and all immaterial/non physical things come from/before and depend on the physical. Since the source of everything is still then physical, it seems apt to call it physicalism, not dualism.

  • The most explict advocacy of emergent substance dualism is Karl Popper's the Self and its Brain. Yes, Popper's model is "source physical" with respect to mental phenomena. There is actually not much distance between Popper and emergent physicalists on this subject -- whehter one calls mental a dependent state genrated by matter, or a separate substance genrated by matter, is mostly semantics. The primery difference is that the mental is independently causal in Popper's model, and emergence physicalists often waffle on causal independence.
    – Dcleve
    Jul 16, 2023 at 21:46
  • Popper holds that world 3, ideas, pre-exists the physical, and is independent of it. This is therefore NOT "source physicalism". Notably, none of Papineau davidpapineau.co.uk/uploads/1/8/5/5/18551740/… Stoljar amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R13R2OUNXMIN6H/… or Melnyk amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1A8I0RTYJEDJM/… consider that abstractions need to be emergent from matter to be a physicalist. Therefore none are source physicalists.
    – Dcleve
    Jul 16, 2023 at 21:59
  • There would be no ideas without the brain. There is not a single concept that isn’t ultimately thought of by a brain. It’s an experience in consciousness that is emergent from a brain process. There’s no way around this. Ideas may be epistemically TRUE without the brain. For example, 2+2=4 is knowledge. But it makes no sense to talk about the truthfulness of a proposition “existing”. The proposition only “exists” as an experience in consciousness that is sourced from the physical.
    – user62907
    Jul 17, 2023 at 0:15
  • there you go again asserting things that are not true, and which you have not done even preliminary self check on. Causation is an IDEA, and without it, physicalism would simply not work. Same with logic, same with math, same with state sequencing, and time. No humans or consciousness are involved in this core feature of our universe. The majority of theoretical physicists now treat math as more "real" than physics.
    – Dcleve
    Jul 17, 2023 at 1:09
  • Causation is not just an idea. It’s a term that represents physical things. That’s like saying a chair is an idea.
    – user62907
    Jul 17, 2023 at 2:48

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