Substance Dualism

Authored by: Stewart Goetz

The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology

Print publication date:  February  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472410931
eBook ISBN: 9781315613673
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041320


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In this chapter, I am not going to argue for substance dualism. I and others have done so elsewhere. 1 What I will do is explain why I believe substance dualism is the default position in theological anthropology. My explanation will draw heavily on the notion of common sense, which, as I understand it, consists of beliefs that arise directly out of the capacities of self-awareness (e.g., I am experiencing pleasure), sense perception (e.g., I see a tree), memory (e.g., I did not sleep well the past few nights), etc., which in part constitute human nature. Because I believe the authors of scripture were not philosophers writing for the purpose of questioning the metaphysics of ordinary people, I will assume that a hermeneutical method is sound only if it recognizes that the scriptural writers accepted the deliverances of common sense. In light of the concerns of this chapter, if a biblical writer addresses a topic (e.g., the afterlife) that raises ontological issues about the nature of a human being, one should assume that he espouses the anthropology of common sense, which is substance dualism.

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