Philosophy of Mind (Fall 2007) - Paper 1


In the movie "Being John Malkovich" (Spike Jonze, 1999), a portal is discovered into the actor John Malkovich's head. Several people enter this portal and experience first-hand what it is like to live in Malkovich's body. For instance, a woman enters the portal while Malkovich is making love to a woman, thereby gaining a radically new perspective. A group of rich elderly people hatch a plan to will all their wealth over to Malcovich and then to enter the porthole, sharing his body for next few decades. There are numerous other movies where bodies are swapped or two minds co-inhabit a single body. For instance, almost any demon possession movie, such as the "Exorcist" (Friedkin, 1973), would work. Note: You don't have to watch any movie if you don't want to, you can simply imagine a case.

Do body-swapping scenarios like the one found in "Being John Malkovich" ask us to assume that Cartesian Dualism is true?

In order to answer this question, you will need to explain your terms. For instance, you will have to explain what Cartesian Dualism is. This will require explaining dualism, substance dualism, what Descartes thought the difference was between the two fundamental kinds of things, mental-material causation, and the like. Assume that you are writing this paper for yourself, before you read Descartes, or a friend who has no knowledge of Cartesian dualism. You'll also need to explain why you think that body-swapping scenarios do or do not assume Cartesian dualism. You'll probably need to describe a body-swapping scenario to do this.

Due Date



The paper should be no more than 1,000 words. This is approximately 3 pages double-spaced with Arial 12 point font.


The paper must be typed. It should be double spaced. It should have one inch margins. You should use a 12 point font. I prefer Arial, since it is easy to read.


You will be required to hand in a paper copy at the start of class on the due date. In addition you must submit the paper through TurnItIn via Blackboard by midnight on the due date. TurnItIn is a plagiarism detection tool. It will compare your paper against others available online, in journals, submitted in this class, Temple, and from all other universities that use the software.

Note: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the class, not just on this assignment.