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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter clarifies the connections between Descartes’ discussion of the mind–body union and classical phenomenology of embodiment, as developed by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. It argues that the perplexing twofoldness of Descartes’ account of the mind–body union—interactionistic on the one hand, and holistic on the other—can be explicated and made coherent by phenomenological analyses of the two different attitudes that we can take toward human beings: the naturalistic and the personalistic. In the naturalistic attitude, the human being is understood as a two-layered psycho-physical complex, in which mental states and faculties are founded on the material basis of the body. In the personalistic attitude, the human being forms an expressive whole in which the spiritual and the sensible-material are intertwined. The chapter ends with a discussion of the most important similarities and differences between Descartes’ and Husserl’s conceptions of philosophy as a radical science.

Keywords: Descartes, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, mind–body relation, materialism, naturalism, interactionism, holism, perception, epistemology

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