Descarte famously divided thought from matter and placed them in separate realms.

Spinoza put them together by placing them within God as the two modes - thought and extension - that are visible to us out of the infinite number of modes that he explained that his substance had.

How else has the Descartian division been resolved? And by whom?

Have any suggested that the original division was an unneccessary cut and a false division?

1 Answer 1


Phenomenology, was, perhaps, the most sustained effort to excise this division from ontology. It begins with Husserl's notion of intentionality and his famous dictum that "consciousness is always the consciousness of something", but finds its full force in Heidegger's Being and Time and his notion of being-in-the-world. Perhaps even more explicitly, Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception is the criticism of the mind-body distinction. Although phenomenology is a movement, not a set of doctrines, the main idea shared by phenomenologists is that 'things' (objects) cannot be separated from those who perceive them. Hence the emphasis on examining meanings rather than things, and hence the erasure of the subject/object distinction. Phenomenology does not so much resolve Cartesian dualism as shows how it is a superfluous distinction.

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