Body and Soul: Why Consciousness ISN'T Physical

By J. P. Moreland

Sorry, we are not able to bring you the entirety of the following article, but this is quite a substantial 'taster' of it. Very well worth reading, although admittedly somewhat 'heavy' reading if one is not familar with the discipline of philosophy. In such cases, our recommendation is always to read the article gradually, regularly returning to it, perhaps over several days. If this 'taster' whets the appetite in this area of human consciousness and it's obvious association with the mental/spiritual side of Man rather than the physical, we would strongly recommend the reading of the entire Body and Soul book by JP Moreland and Scott Rae. Amazon should be able to get you a copy. Further to that, we are now going to be returning to this topic several more times during spring-summer, 2009 - a good reason to be on our E Letter List!
UK Apologetics, January, 2009.

T hroughout history, Christianity has been interpreted as giving an affirmative answer to questions about the reality of the three great topics of Western philosophy: namely, God, the soul, and life everlasting. For centuries, most Christian thinkers have believed in the existence of the souls of men and beasts, as it used to be put. Animals and humans are composed of an immaterial entity—a soul, a life principle, a ground of sentience—and a body. More specifically, a human person is a unity of two distinct entities—body and soul. The human soul, while not by nature immortal, is nevertheless capable of entering an intermediate disembodied state upon death, however incomplete and unnatural this state may be, and, eventually, being reunited with a resurrected body.

Recently, several thinkers have disputed Christianity’s association with dualism on the grounds that dualism is a Greek notion read into the Bible, that the Bible teaches a Hebraic holistic unity and not a Greek dualism, and that the Christian hope for an afterlife rests on the resurrection of the body and not on the immortality of the soul. None of these assertions is persuasive. Elsewhere, biblical defenses of anthropological dualism have been offered and will not be repeated here.1 Rather, this article will clarify some preliminary issues and defend “property dualism.” Part 2 of this series will defend “substance dualism,” and Part 3 will describe and criticize some important versions of “mind/body physicalism.” This article begins by presenting some important preliminary background issues, and continues with a defense of a dualist construal of mental properties/events.

Preliminary Issues

Currently, there are two main positions on the mind/body problem: physicalism and dualism. The former claims that a human being is completely physical, whereas the latter maintains that a human being is both physical and mental. Dualism comes in two major varieties: substance dualism and property/event dualism. Physicalism comes in different varieties as well, but that will be explored in Part 3 of this series. This article compares the different views listed in the chart below, beginning with a clarification of the nature of substances, properties, and events.

A substance is an entity like an acorn, a carbon atom, a dog, or an angel. Substances have a number of important characteristics. First, substances are particular, individual things. A substance, like a particular acorn, cannot be in more than one place at the same time.

Second, a substance is a continuant—it can change by gaining new properties and losing old ones, yet it remains the same thing throughout the change. A leaf can go from green to red, yet the leaf itself is the same entity before, during, and after the change. In general, substances can change in some of their properties and yet remain the same substance. The very leaf that was green is the same leaf that is now red.

Third, substances are basic, fundamental existents. They are not in other things or had by other things. Someone’s dog, Fido, is not in or had by something more basic than he. Rather, properties (and parts) are in substances that have them. For example, Fido has the property of brownness and the property of weighing twenty-five pounds. These properties are in the substance called Fido.

Fourth, substances are unities of parts, properties, and capacities (dispositions, tendencies, potentialities). Fido has a number of properties like the ones already listed. He also has a number of parts—four legs, some teeth, two eyes. Further, he has some capacities or potentialities that are not always actual. For example, he has the capacity to bark even when he is silent. As a substance, Fido is a unity of all the properties, parts, and capacities had by him.

Finally, a substance has causal powers. It can do things in the world. A dog can bark; a leaf can drop into a puddle of water and produce ripples. Substances can cause things to happen.

In addition to substances, there are also entities that exist called properties. A property is an existent reality, examples of which are brownness, triangularity, hardness, wisdom, painfulness. As with substances, properties have a number of important features.

One feature is that a property is a universal that can be in more than one thing at the same time. Redness can be in a flag, a coat, and an apple all at once. The very same redness can be the color of several particular things all at the same time.

Another feature of properties is their immutability. When a leaf goes from green to red, the leaf changes by losing an old property and gaining a new one. But the property of redness does not change and become the property of greenness. Properties can come and go, but they do not change in their internal constitution or nature.

Moreover, properties can, or perhaps must, be in or had by other things more basic than they.Properties are in the things that have them. For example, redness is in the apple. The apple has the redness. One does not find redness existing all by itself. In general, when one talks about a property, it makes sense to ask the question, “What is it that has that property?” That question is not appropriate for substances, for they are among the things that have the properties. Substances have properties; properties are had by substances.

Finally, there are entities in the world called events. Examples of events are a flash of lightning, the dropping of a ball, the having of a thought, the change of a leaf, and the continued possession of sweetness by an apple (this would be a series of events). Events are states or changes of states of substances. An event is the coming or going of a property in a substance at a particular time, or the continued possession of a property by a substance throughout a time.“This shirt’s being green now" and “this acorn’s process of changing shape” are both examples of events.

Physicalism and Dualism

Keeping these critical distinctions in mind, one can now move on to consider in more detail the different mind/body views, beginning with physicalism.

The Physicalist View

According to physicalism, a human being is merely a physical entity. The only things that exist are physical substances, properties, and events. For humans, the physical substance is the material body, especially the parts called the brain and central nervous system. The physical substance called the brain has physical properties, such as a certain weight, volume, size, electrical activity, chemical composition, and so forth.

Physical events also occur in the brain. For example, the brain contains a number of elongated cells, called neurons, that carry various impulses. Various neurons make contact with other neurons through connections, or points of contact, called synapses. C-fibers are certain types of neurons that innervate the skin (supply the skin with nerves) and carry pain impulses. So, when someone has an occasion of pain or an occurrence of a thought, physicalists hold that these are merely physical events—events where certain C-fibers are firing, or certain electrical and chemical events are happening in the brain and central nervous system.

Thus, physicalists believe that a human being is merely a physical substance (a brain and central nervous system plus a body) that has physical properties, and in which physical events occur.  A person’s conscious mental life of thoughts, emotions, and pain are nothing but physical events in his brain and nervous system. The neurophysiologist can, in principle, describe these events solely in terms of C-fibers, neurons, and the chemical and physical properties of the brain. For the physicalist, a person is merely a functioning brain and central nervous system enclosed in a physical body. A human being is a material substance, a creature made of matter—nothing more, nothing less.

What is matter? There is no clear definition of matter, but examples of it are not hard to come by. Matter composes material objects—things like computers, carbon atoms, and billiard balls—which have physical properties. Physical properties are (1) publicly accessible in the sense that no one person is better suited to have private access to a physical property than anyone else; (2) such that an object must be either spatially located or extended to exemplify the physical property; (3) such that when a strictly material object has physical properties, that object does not engage in genuinely teleological (goal-directed or purpose-directed) behavior; i.e., it does not undergo change for the sake of some end, purpose, or final cause.

Physical properties are the properties that one finds listed in chemistry or physics books. They are properties such as hardness; occupying and moving through space; having a certain shape; possessing certain chemical, electrical, magnetic, and gravitational properties; having density and weight; and being breakable, malleable, and elastic. A physical event would be the possessing of, the coming of, or the going of one or more of these properties by or in a physical substance (or among physical substances). For example, an ice cube melts into water; a banana turns from green to yellow as it ripens.

Another very crucial observation to make about material substances, properties, and events is this: No material thing presupposes or has reference to consciousness for it to exist or be characterized. A person will search in vain through a physics or chemistry textbook to find consciousness included in any description of matter. A completely physical description of the world would not include any terms that make reference to, or characterize, the existence and nature of consciousness.

Assume that matter is actually what chemistry and physics books say it is. Now imagine that there is no God, and picture a universe in which no conscious, living beings had evolved. In such an imaginary world, there would be no consciousness anywhere in the universe. However, in this imaginary world, matter would still exist and be what scientists claim that it is. Carbon atoms would still be carbon atoms; electrons would still have a negative charge. An electron is still an electron regardless of whether or not conscious minds exist in the world. These examples indicate that the existence and nature of matter are independent of the existence of consciousness.

The Dualist View

Dualists disagree with physicalists. According to dualists, genuinely mental entities are real. As with matter, it is hard to give a definition of mental entities. But examples of mental entities are easy to supply. First, there are various kinds of sensations: experiences of colors, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, pains, and itches. Sensations are individual things that occur at particular times. One can have a sensation of red after looking in a certain direction at a red object or by closing his eyes and daydreaming. An experience of pain will arise at a certain time, say, after one is stuck with a pin.

Further, sensations are natural kinds of things that have, as their very essence, the felt quality or sensory property that makes them what they are. Part of the very essence of a pain is the felt quality it has; part of the very essence of a red sensation is the presentation of a particular shade of color to one’s field of vision. Sensations are not identical to things outside a person’s body—for instance, a feeling of pain is not the same thing as being stuck with a pin and shouting, “Ouch!” Sensations are essentially characterized by a certain conscious feel, and thus, they presuppose consciousness for their existence and description. If there were no conscious beings, there would be no sensations.

Second, there are things called propositional attitudes: having a certain mental attitude involving a proposition that is part of a that-clause. For example, one can hope, desire, fear, dread, wish, think, believe that P where P may be the proposition “The Royals are a great baseball team.” Propositional attitudes include at least two components: the attitude itself and the content, or meaning, embedded in the propositional attitude.

Hopes, fears, dreads, wishes, thoughts, etc. are all different attitudes, different states of consciousness, and they are all different from each other based on their conscious feel. A hope that it will rain is different from a fear that it will rain. What’s the difference? A hope has a very different conscious feel from a fear.

Propositional attitudes also all have a content, or a meaning, embedded in the propositional attitude—namely, the propositional content of one’s consciousness while he is having the propositional attitude. A hope that P differs from a hope that Q because P and Q are different propositions or meanings in one’s consciousness. If there were no conscious selves, there would be no propositional attitudes. A hope that it will rain differs from a hope that taxes will be cut. The contents of these two hopes have quite different meanings.

Third, there are acts of free will or purposings. These are acts of will performed by conscious selves. If a woman is unaware that her arm is tied down and she tries to raise it, then the purposing is the “trying to bring about” the event of raising her arm. Intentional actions are episodes of volition, exercises of active power, by conscious selves wherein and whereby they do various actions.

To summarize, dualists argue that sensations, propositional attitudes, and purposings are all examples of mental entities.

Property Dualism vs. Substance Dualism

In addition to these differences between physicalists and dualists, there is also an intramural debate between property dualists and substance dualists regarding mental properties.Property dualists believe there are some physical substances that have only physical properties: For example, a billiard ball is hard and round. They also maintain that there are no mental substances. On the other hand, they contend there is one material substance that has both physical and mental properties—the brain. When someone experiences a pain, there is a certain physical property possessed by the brain (a C-fiber stimulation with chemical and electrical properties) and there is a certain mental property possessed by the brain (the pain itself with its felt quality). The brain is the possessor of all mental properties. A person is not a mental self that has thoughts and experiences. Rather, a person is a brain and a series, or bundle, of successive experiences. Moreover, property dualists claim that just as wetness is a real property that supervenes over a water molecule, so mental properties supervene upon brain states.

In contrast with property dualism, substance dualism holds that the brain is a physical thing that has physical properties, and the mind or soul is a mental substance that has mental properties. When one is in pain, the brain has certain physical properties (electrical and chemical), and the soul, or self, has certain mental properties (the conscious awareness of pain). The soul is the possessor of its experiences. It stands behind, over, and above them, and remains the same throughout one’s life. The soul and the brain can interact with each other, but they are different particulars with different properties. Since the soul is not to be identified with any part of the brain or with any particular mental experience, then the soul may be able to survive the destruction of the body. Substance dualists accept the existence of both mental properties and substances.

Currently, there are three main forms of substance dualism being debated. First, there is Cartesian substance dualism, according to which the mind is a substance with the ultimate capacities for consciousness, and it is connected to its body by way of an external causal relation.2 Second, there is Thomistic substance dualism, one important version of which takes the soul to be broader than the mind in containing, not merely the capacities for consciousness, but also those capacities which ground biological life and functioning. In this view, the human soul diffuses, informs, unifies, animates, and makes the body human. The body is not a physical substance, but rather, an ensouled physical structure such that if it loses the soul, it is no longer a human body in a strict, philosophical sense.3 According to the third form, Emergent substance dualism, a substantial, immaterial self emerges from the functioning of the brain and nervous system, but once it emerges, it exercises its own causal powers and continues to be sustained by God after death.4

The Nature of Identity

Now it is time to turn to a topic, the nature of identity, that will explain a strategy for defending dualism. The eighteenth-century philosopher/theologian Joseph Butler once remarked that every thing is itself and not something else. This simple truth has profound implications. Suppose someone wants to know if J. P. Moreland is Eileen Spiek’s youngest son. If J. P. Moreland is identical to Eileen Spiek’s youngest son (everything true of one is true of the other), then in reality, one is talking about one single thing: J. P. Moreland, who is Eileen Spiek’s youngest son. However, if even one small thing is true of J. P. Moreland and not true of Eileen Spiek’s youngest son, then these are two entirely different people. Furthermore, J. P. Moreland is identical to himself and not different from himself. So if J. P. Moreland is not identical to Eileen Spiek’s youngest son, then in reality one must be talking about two things, not one.

This illustration suggests a truth about the nature of identity known as Leibniz’ Law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals: For any entities x and y, if x and y are identical (they are really the same thing, there is only one thing being talked about, not two), then any truth that applies to x will apply to y as well. This suggests a test for identity: If a person could find one thing true of x not true of y, or vice versa, then x cannot be identical to (be the same thing as) y. Further, if one could find one thing that could possibly be true of x and not y (or vice versa), even if it isn’t actually true, then x cannot be identical to y.

For example, if J. P. Moreland is five-feet-eight inches tall, but Eileen Spiek’s youngest son is six-feet tall, then they are not the same thing. Further, if J. P. Moreland is five-feet-eight and Eileen Spiek’s youngest son is five-feet-eight, but it would be possible for J. P. to be five-feet-nine while Eileen’s youngest son was five-feet-ten, then they are not the same thing either.

What does this have to do with the mind/body problem? Simply this: Physicalists are committed to the claim that alleged mental entities are really identical to physical entities, such as brain states, properties of the brain, overt bodily behavior, and dispositions to behave (for example, pain is just the tendency to shout, “Ouch!” when stuck by a pin, instead of pain being a certain mental feel). If physicalism is true, then everything true of the brain (and its properties, states, and dispositions) is true of the mind (and its properties, states, and dispositions), and vice versa. If a person can find one thing true, or even possibly true of the mind and not of the brain, or vice versa, then dualism is established. The mind is not the brain.

A number of arguments imply something is true of the mind or its states, and not of the brain or its states, or vice versa. Thus, the former cannot be identical to the latter. But, if they are not identical, physicalism is false and, taking dualism to be the only other option, dualism is true.

Keep in mind that the relation of identity is different from any other relation (for example, the relation of causation or constant connection). It may be that brain events cause mental events or vice versa: Having certain electrical activity in the brain may cause someone to experience a pain; having an intention to raise one’s arm may cause bodily events. It may be that for every mental activity a neurophysiologist can find a physical activity in the brain with which it is correlated. But just because A causes B (or vice versa), or just because A and B are constantly correlated with each other, that does not mean that A is identical to B. For example, something is trilateral if, and only if, it is triangular. But trilaterality (the property of having three sides) is not identical to triangularity (the property of having three angles), even though they are constantly conjoined.

Therefore, and this is critical, physicalism cannot be established on the basis that mental states and brain states are causally related or constantly conjoined with each other in an embodied person. Physicalism needs identity to make its case, and if something is true or possibly true of a mental substance, property, or event that is not true or possibly true of a physical substance, property, or event, then physicalism is false.

Can a case for dualism be made? Most definitely. In Part 2  arguments that show the superiority of substance dualism over both physicalism and property dualism will be discussed. But now, some arguments will be given that lend support to property dualism over physicalism.

A Case for Property Dualism and the Immaterial Nature of Consciousness

Property dualism is the view that ostensibly mental properties are genuinely mental, not physical, properties and, on a standard understanding of events, that individual mental events/states are genuinely mental and not physical. At least three arguments have been proffered for property/event dualism.

Mental states

First, once one gets an accurate description of consciousness (page X) it becomes clear that mental properties/events are not identical to physical properties/events. Mental states are characterized by their intrinsic, subjective, inner, private, qualitative feel, made present to a subject by first person introspection. For example, a pain is a certain felt hurtfulness. Mental states cannot be intrinsically described by physical language, even if through study of the brain one can discover the causal/functional relations between mental and brain states.

In general, mental states have some or all of the following features, none of which is a physical feature of anything: Mental states like pains have an intrinsic, raw, conscious feel. There is a “what-it-is-like” to a pain. Most, if not all mental states have intentionality; i.e., they are of or about things. Any way one has of knowing about a physical entity is available to everyone else, including ways of knowing about one’s brain. But a subject has a way of knowing about his mental states that is not available to others—through introspection.

Mental states are constituted by self-presenting properties. One can be aware of the external, physical world only by means of one’s mental states, but one need not be aware of one’s mental states by means of anything else. For example, it is by way of a sensation of red that one is aware of an apple, but one is not aware of the sensation of red by way of another sensation. Mental states are necessarily owned, and, in fact, one’s mental states could not have belonged to someone else. However, no physical state is necessarily owned, much less necessarily owned by a specific subject.

Some sensations are vague (e.g., a sensation of an object may be fuzzy or vague) but no physical state is vague.5 Some sensations are pleasurable or unpleasurable, but nothing physical has these properties. A cut on the knee is, strictly speaking, not unpleasurable. It is the pain event caused by the cut that is unpleasurable. Mental states can have the property of familiarity (e.g., when a desk looks familiar to someone), but familiarity is not a feature of a physical state.

Since mental states have these features and physical states do not, then mental states are not identical to physical states. Some physicalists have responded by denying that consciousness has the features in question. For example, dualists have argued that thinking events are not spatially located, even though the brain event associated with them is spatially located. Physicalists counter that thoughts are, after all, located in certain places of the brain. But there is no reason to accept this claim, since dualists can account for all the spatial factors of the brain events causally related to thoughts. Moreover, through introspection subjects seem to know quite a bit about the features of their thoughts, and spatial location is not one of them. Similar responses are offered by dualists in response to physicalist claims about the other features of consciousness.

Acquisition of Knowledge

A second argument for property/event dualism is the Knowledge Argument, variously formulated by Thomas Nagel, Frank Jackson, and Saul Kripke.6 A standard presentation of the thought experiment is this: Mary, a brilliant scientist blind from birth, knows all the physical facts relevant to acts of perception. When she suddenly gains the ability to see, she gains knowledge of new facts. Since she knew all the physical facts before gaining sight, and since she now gains knowledge of new facts, these facts must not be physical facts and, moreover, given Mary’s situation, they must be mental facts.

To appreciate the argument, it is necessary to focus on the nature of self-presenting properties and three kinds of knowledge. First, a self-presenting property presents both its intentional object (say, the red apple) and itself to the subject exemplifying it. When a person has a self-presenting property, he is modified in some way. One way to put this is to say that when a person has a red sensation, he is in the state of being appeared to redly.

Suppose the light is such that an orange jar looks red to Jim. If Jim says the object is red, his statement is about the jar and is false. If Jim says, “I seem to see something red” or “the jar appears red to me” what he says is true because he is reporting a description of his own sensation. He is not talking about the jar. Jim’s statements report his own description of the private, directly accessed mental sensation going on inside him.

Second, arguably, there are three forms of knowledge, irreducible to each other, though, of course, one form may be the epistemic ground for another: (1) Knowledge by acquaintance: One has such knowledge when one is directly aware of something, e.g., when one sees an apple directly before him, he knows it by acquaintance. One does not need a concept of an apple or knowledge of how to use the word “apple” to have knowledge by acquaintance of an apple. (2) Propositional knowledge: This is knowledge that a proposition is true. For example, knowledge that “the object there is an apple” requires having a concept of an apple and knowing that the object under consideration satisfies the concept. (3) Know-how: This is the ability to do certain things, e.g., to use apples for certain purposes.

Generally, knowledge by acquaintance provides grounds for propositional knowledge which, in turn, provides what is necessary to have genuine know-how. It is because one sees the apple that one knows that it is an apple, and it is in virtue of one’s knowledge of apples that one has the skill to do things to or with them.

By way of application, Mary comes to exemplify the self-presenting mental property of being appeared to redly. With her ability to see, Mary gains several new kinds of knowledge—she gains knowledge by acquaintance, propositional knowledge, and skills both with regard to the color red and her sensation of red. Mary now knows by acquaintance what redness is. Upon further reflection and experience, she can now know things like, necessarily, red is a color. She also gains skill about comparing or sorting objects on the basis of their color, of how to arrange color patterns that are most beautiful or natural to the eye, etc. Assuming a realist, and not a representative, dualist construal of secondary qualities, we may say that the three kinds of knowledge just listed are not themselves knowledge of mental facts, but are forms of knowledge that can be gained only by way of mental states that exemplify the relevant self-presenting property.

Further, Mary gains knowledge about her sensation of red. She is now aware of having a sensation of red for the first time and can be aware of a specific sensation of red being pleasurable, vague, etc. She also has propositional knowledge about her sensations. She could know that a sensation of red is more like a sensation of green than it is like a sour taste. She can know that the way the apple appears to her now is vivid, pleasant, or like the way the orange appeared to her (namely, redly) yesterday in bad lighting. Finally, she has skills about her sensations. She can recall them to memory, re-image things in her mind, adjust her glasses until her sensations of color are vivid, etc.

Physicalists David Papineau and Paul Churchland have offered slightly different versions of the most prominent physicalist rejoinder to this argument:7 When Mary gains the ability to see red, she gains no knowledge of any new facts. Rather, she gains new abilities, new behavioral dispositions, new know-how, new ways to access the facts she already knew before gaining the ability to see. Before the experience, Mary knew all there was to know about the facts involved in what it is like to experience red. She could imagine what it would be like for some other person to experience red. She could know what it is like to have an experience of red due to the fact that this is simply a physical state of the brain, and Mary had mastered the relevant physical theory before gaining sight. But now she has a “pre-linguistic representation of redness,” a first-person ability to image redness or re-create the experience of redness in her memory. She can re-identify her experience of red and classify it according to the type of experience it is by a new “inner” power of introspection. Prior to the experience, she could merely recognize when someone else was experiencing red “from the outside,” i.e., from learning how the experience of red affected others. Thus, the physicalist admits a duality of types of knowledge but not a duality of facts that are known.

For three reasons this response is inadequate. First, is it simply not true that Mary gains a new way of knowing what she already knew instead of gaining knowledge of a new set of facts? Above, there are listed some elements of Mary’s new factual knowledge, and it seems obvious that Mary failed to have this factual knowledge prior to gaining the ability to see.

Second, to be at all plausible, this physicalist rejoinder seems to presuppose a course-grained theory of properties, according to which two properties are identical if they are either contingently or necessarily co-exemplified. This assumption allows the physicalist to identify the relevant property in the Knowledge Argument (being red, being an-appearing-of-red) with a property employed in physical theory isomorphic (of similar form) with it. But the course-grain theory is false. Being triangular and being trilateral are different properties even though necessarily co-exemplified, and the same may be said of various unexemplified or unexemplifiable properties.

Third, when Churchland and Papineau describe Mary’s new know-how, they help themselves to a number of notions that clearly seem to be dualist ones, including: pre-linguistic representation, first-person ability to image, ability to re-identify her experience, introspection, and others. These dualist notions are the real intuition pumps for the physicalist rejoinder. Remove the dualist language and replace it with notions that can be captured in physicalist language, and the physicalist response becomes implausible.


The third argument for property/event dualism is based on intentionality. Some (perhaps all) mental states have intentionality. No physical state has intentionality. Therefore, at least some mental states are not physical. Intentionality is the “ofness” or “aboutness” of various mental states. A thought, sensation, or belief is always of or about its object. Consider the following facts about intentionality:

  1. When one represents a mental act to oneself, there are no sense-data associated with it; this is not so with physical states and their relations.
  2. Intentionality is completely unrestricted with regard to the kind of object it can hold as a term—anything whatsoever can have a mental act directed upon it, but physical relations only obtain for a narrow range of objects (e.g., magnetic fields only attract certain things).
  3. To grasp a mental act one must engage in a reflexive act of self-awareness, but no such reflexivity is required to grasp a physical relation.
  4. For ordinary physical relations (e.g., x is to the left of y), x and y are identifiable objects irrespective of whether they have entered into that relation (ordinary physical relations are external). This is not so for intentional contents (e.g., one and the same belief cannot be about a frog and later about a house—the belief is what it is, at least partly, in virtue of what the belief is of).
  5. For ordinary relations, each of the relata must exist in order for the relation to obtain (x and y must exist before one can be on top of the other), but intentionality can be of nonexistent things (e.g., one can think of Zeus).
  6. Intentional states are intentional (having to do with attributes), but physical states are extensional (having to do with class members).

Many physicalists try to reduce intentionality to physical causal/functional relations. Dualists respond by offering thought experiments in which causal/functional relations are neither necessary nor sufficient for intentionality. Moreover, even if there were necessary and sufficient causal/functional conditions for every intentional state, this would show merely that the two were isomorphic, not identical.

In summary, reasons exist for holding that consciousness is not itself physical. But what about the owner of consciousness, the ego or self? Is the self immaterial as well, or is it something physical, for example, the brain? These questions will be discussed in Body and Soul: Part 2. (In fact, that is all that UK Apologetics are able to bring you of this article, but hopefully the reader's appetite has been whetted to study this area of Christian philosophy more closely).

J. P. Moreland is professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He has authored, co-authored, edited, or contributed to twenty books, including Body and Soul (InterVarsity) and Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (Routledge). He has also written over 50 articles in professional journals, including The American Philosophical Quarterly, Faith and Philosophy, and Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.



  1. J. P. Moreland and Scott Rae, Body and Soul (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2000), 17-47; J. P. Moreland, “Restoring the Soul to Christianity,” Christian Research Journal 23 (spring 2000): 23-27, 41-43; John Cooper, Body, Soul & Life Everlasting, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).
  2. Richard Swinburne, The Evolution of the Soul, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).
  3. Moreland and Rae.
  4. William Hasker, The Emergent Self (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 1999).
  5. The supposed vagueness of quantum states prior to their measurement is irrelevant here for two reasons: (1) Whatever else a sensation is, it is not a quantum state of some sort; (2) quantum vagueness is, arguably, epistemological and not ontological.
  6. Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” The Philosophical Review 83 (1974): 435-50; Frank Jackson, “Epiphenomenal Qualia,” Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April 1982): 127-36; Saul Kripke, “Naming and Necessity,” Semantics of Natural Languages, eds. Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1972), 253-355. Subsequently, Jackson has raised doubts about the Knowledge Argument. See Frank Jackson, “What Mary Didn’t Know,” Journal of Philosophy 83 (1986): 291-95.
  7. David Papineau, Philosophical Naturalism(Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1993), 103-14; Paul M. Churchland, Matter and Consciousness, 2d ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1988), 33-34.

This article also appears in this form on the Reasons to Believe website.