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The mind–body problem and the role of pain: cross-fire between Leibniz and his Cartesian readers

Abstract : This article is about the exchanges between Leibniz, Arnauld, Bayle and Lamy on the subject of pain. If commentators have extensively studied the Leibnizian solution to the mind-body problem, they have usually overlooked a recurrent objection that Leibniz’s Cartesian readers addressed to his hypothesis of a pre-established harmony: the problem of pain, or, more exactly, the capacity of the Leibnizian solution to account for the phenomenon of pain. In this article, I examine how this phenomenon is interpreted in Leibniz’s exchanges with Arnauld, Bayle, Lamy and Malebranche, who called attention to three difficulties raised by Leibniz’s approach to pain: the problem of concomitance between pain and bodily injury; the spontaneity of the soul which is hardly compatible with the unpleasantness of pain; and the difficulty in admitting that pain might be a natural representation of a physical state. In successively analysing these three objections, my purpose is twofold. First, I want to show that for Leibniz’s contemporaries, the mind-body problem could not be reduced simply to the issue of causation with which his commentators widely dealt. Second, I want to clarify Leibniz’s pre-established harmony by opposing a representational to a functional account of psychophysical phenomena. This opposition will allow me to indicate what was left unexplained by Leibniz’s seductive version of parallelism.
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Contributor : Raphaële Andrault Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 10:30:40 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 3:11:07 AM


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Raphaële Andrault. The mind–body problem and the role of pain: cross-fire between Leibniz and his Cartesian readers. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2018, 26 (n°1), pp.25-45. ⟨10.1080/09608788.2017.1379002⟩. ⟨halshs-01616148⟩



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