Language, belief and human beings

David Cockburn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    We may think of the core of Cartesian dualism as being the thesis that each of us is essentially a non-material mind or soul: ‘non-material’ in the sense that it has no weight, cannot be seen or touched, and could in principle continue to exist independently of the existence of any material thing. That idea was, of course, of enormous importance to Descartes himself, and we may feel that having rejected it, as most philosophers now have, we have rejected what is of greatest philosophical significance in Descartes' conception of the self. That would, I believe, be a mistake. Something akin to the Cartesian mind-body contrast still has a pervasive grip on philosophical thought across a whole range of issues. The contrast is, I believe, reflected in common philosophical versions of the contrasts between mind and body, fact and value, reason and emotion, word and deed, reason and persuasion, and no doubt others. My central concern in this paper is, however, a familiar philosophical understanding of the relation between, on the one hand, belief and its articulation in words and, on the other, action or feeling.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-157
    Number of pages17
    JournalRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003

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