September 27, 2006
Bloom makes the argument that we are all dualists from an everyday practicality
standpoint, which is different from saying that every person truly believes in the idea of an
immaterial soul, or otherwise supernatural entity residing within each of us. He uses the term
"common-sense dualism" to represent this idea, and it is exactly this idea which extends into
our everyday ethical judgments, and even into the language that we use. For example, we use
phrases such as "my body" and "my brain," according to Bloom, and this in effect implies a
certain possession or ownership of these physical parts. This common-sense dualism can also
help to muddy arguments on either side of issues dealing with abortion, stem-cell research,
homosexual lifestyles, capital punishment, and a variety of other "ethical" issues, though the
idea of a soul is ironically meant to simplify these grey areas.
Bloom separates this argument for dualism from the one posed by Descartes, which
begins with the assumption that the soul is a separate, possibly physical entity residing either
within the mind, or serving as the basis for "mind." Descartes also toys with the idea that his
mind is the only "real" object in any practical sense, because Satan or an otherwise ornery
demon could have easily created the settings around him, including his own house or even his
own body, in an effort to deceive him, which could also include that even his most basic
beliefs could be entirely false.
. This approach also helped Descartes to reach the conclusion
stated in his Second Meditation of "I am, I exist," which is a slight modification to his more-
Cogito ergo sum
, or "I think, therefore I am," which he had first presented in
Discourse on Method
, published four years earlier in 1637.