Lecture 2 - The nature of persons: dualism vs. physicalism

author: Shelly Kagan, Department of Philosophy, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: Feb. 12, 2010,   recorded: January 2007,   views: 13258
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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Professor Kagan discusses the two main positions with regard to the question, "What is a person?" On the one hand, there is the dualist view, according to which a person is a body and a soul. On the other hand, the physicalist view argues that a person is just a body. The body, however, has a certain set of abilities and is capable of a large range of activities.

Reading assignment:

Rosenberg, Jay. "Life After Death: In Search of the Question." In Thinking Clearly About Death. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1983. pp. 18-22


Figures 2.1-2.2 [PDF]

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Alireza, August 15, 2011 at 12:52 a.m.:

many thanks for share these videos,
Alireza/Bonn, Germany

Comment2 jeff , April 9, 2012 at 4:34 p.m.:

Can you explain your definition of monism a little more? It seems that you are accurately depicting a physicalist or materialistic point of view in your description of a soulless life, but monism as I understand it implies a unity of all matierial that materialism does not necessitate. Are you arguing for a physical definition that all life is a unity or that we are discrete physical entities? Or, is this unimportant to understanding your lectures?

Thank you,


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