Neo-Descartian dualism

From writing a utopian fiction in my fifties I came first to doubt Darwinism, then to find its physicalism/materialism toxic. since then I’ve tried to fashion a natural philosophy from which better origin stories would naturally emerge. Below is my current version.

I begin with Descartes’ “I think therefore I am.” Here’s how I develop it:


  • Conscious thought can exist, we know because this is one.
  • Some conscious thoughts involve recall of other conscious thoughts. We can generalize this persistence of a capacity to have conscious thoughts as consciousness.
  • Conscious thoughts being conscious of each other hallucinate into existence a persistent entity able to have conscious thoughts, eg a conscious self. This allows us to say "I" and "we."
  • My being able to express this conscious thought in print/online proves I can consciously cause physical events. Conscious thoughts and matter can interact. How? Doesn't matter for now.


  • We experience our conscious self coming associated with body stuff such as limbs and our senses, eg sight.
  • We come equipped to locate things around us in 3D space (in the form of a few dozen specialized brain cells, science reveals).
  • We similarly come equipped to identify other body-self combinations like us (also in the form of a few dozen specialized brain cells).

This testifies to the value of believing in the existence of other things and other people like us arranged around us in space and time.


  • Physical things changing over time in response to physical processes is deterministic, ruling out unpredictable novelty and creativity.
  • Distinguishable from purely physical things are living creatures, which manifest indeterminacy, presumably driven by other processes.
  • New kinds of living creatures emerge where and when the creatures most like them already exist. Call this evolution.
  • Evolution manifests novelty and creativity, eg single-celled creatures evolving into giraffes and elephants.
  • Indeterminate processes in living creatures, evolutionary processes, and processes driving conscious experiences (mind) have similar properties, eg indeterminacy, non-conservation properties etc. As yet no logic distinguishes between them. So let’s not multiply processes unnecessarily, let's combine them and call them evo-mental processes. Then we’ve just two kinds of fundamental processes: physical, and evo-mental.
  • We have a basic drive to understand ourselves and the universe:

- The physical world. Physical sciences help us understand that.

- The evo-conscious world. To study that we can introspect and study biology, paleontology, history.

- Ways the physical and evo-conscious worlds can interact.

To say purely physical things and conscious thoughts can interact is controversial; physicalists deny it’s possible. So here are some examples:


  • My being able to express this conscious thought in print/online'
  • By species of living creatures evolving.
  • Growth, decay and death of the individual.
  • Instinctive motivation: pleasure-pain, sex, hunger, panic, etc.
  • Conscious monitoring of our senses and activation of nerve impulses.
  • All sorts of performance, eg body language, facial expressions, dance.
  • Language, spoken and written, and other media.
  • Culture: museums and art galleries, religious paraphernalia etc.
  • Institutions: technology, hospitality, education, banking, commerce.

Banking? That’s how conscious desires can interact with performances in terms of human ingenuity.


  • How evolutionary processes relate to conscious thinking processes.
  • How reach of consciousness developed with evolution and history.
  • Possibility of consciousness becoming enriched by what we discover about evolution.
  • How different modes of interaction dominated culture over time, eg Middle Ages, religion; today, exchanges of manufactured goods for money earned through labor. Tomorrow: pursuing a dualistic self-understanding?


  • We are by nature dualists: in consciousness we experience two worlds, a physical world driven by deterministic invariable processes, and a living world in which evo-mental processes operate.
  • Where Descartes introduced God to make sense of his dualistic vision, I introduce evolution. Where he invoked the pineal gland as the channel connecting mind and matter, I leave the matter open, regarding it at this moment as an unresolvable distraction.
  • It may be appropriate to transition from a physicalist to a dualist study of the universe.

Know of others engaged on such a quest? Please let me know.