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Dualism and Parallelism Explained Within the Caribbean Context

Dualism is defined as the belief in the idea that reality is composed of two different
substances: The mental and the physical (Calef 2009). This therefore means that the mind and
the brain are two separate entities as the brain is a part of the body. It is an umbrella term for a
number of other theories that express different perspectives on the basic idea of dualism (Calef
2009). One such theory is that of parallelism (Howard 2003). This theory belongs to a subgroup
of four theories that deal with the issue of how the mind and the body interact (Howard 2003).
This issue of explaining how the mind and body, two completely different entities, interact is
known as the mind body problem: parallelism, occasionalism, interactionism and
epiphenomenalism (Crane, Patterson 2000, 1). The goal of this essay is to explain dualism and
parallelism in a way that the Caribbean layman can understand. It is however common
knowledge that that the average layman may have trouble understanding philosophical terms. It
is also common knowledge that the use of analogous comparisons of an unfamiliar thing with a
familiar thing is helpful in explaining an unfamiliar concept. In light of these facts one dualism
and parallelism can be analyzed by using examples from Caribbean culture.
It is important to note that the dualistic theories of mind and body concerning the
interaction between the mind and the body can be separated into two groups: Substance dualism
and Property dualism (Calef 2009). This distinction is ontological in nature (Howard 2003).
Substance dualism makes the assertion that the mind and the body exist independently of
each other (Howard 2003). This means that neither substance is responsible for the existence of
the other (Howard 2003). One major philosopher that was known for supporting this version of
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dualistic thought was Rene Descartes (Calef 2009). A good example of substance dualism that
can be used is the creation of the patois Bible that is referred to in the quote:
Predicably an Observer lead story last Monday titled "Patois Bible" has set
off a raging controversy, never far below the surface, over the usefulness of
recognizing the Jamaican dialect or patois as a formal language.
The plan by the Bible Society of the West Indies to publish a patois
version of the Bible, that will cost $60 million and take 12 years to complete,
sparked a flood of letters to the editor from Jamaicans at home and abroad and
occupied large chunks of talk show air time last week.
While some persons see the move as brilliant, and a big step in
championing the cause of the Jamaican language, critics have denounced it as a
waste of time, effort and money. In any event, they argue, a patois version of the
Bible would not be taken seriously and would somehow undermine the sacredness
of the holy Scriptures.
Dr Anthea Morrison, head of the Department of Literatures in English at
the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St Andrew is among those who
feel the money could be better spent.

This is a good example of substance dualism because of the fact that in the case of the printed
version of the text the book would be composed of two different substances. These two
substances are the paper and the ink printed on its pages and neither substance is responsible for
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the existence of the other. The dualistic theories that fall under the category of substance dualism
are interactionism, occasionalism and parallelism (Calef 2009).
Interactionism is the school of dualist thought that states that the mental events of the
mind and the physical events of the body have a causal effect on one another (Howard 2003).
This theory is basically making the assertion that the mental events of the mind are influenced by
the data that one would receive from the five senses, touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight, by the
experiences of the physical environment and that these mental events can then be acted upon by
the physical body (Howard 2003). One Caribbean example that could be seen as a logical way
of explaining interactionism is the case of Orville Clarkes article (2007) on Ewart Hall winning
the Mystix 8-ball tournament, a pool tournament. This is a good example as the chain reaction of
one pool ball hitting another ball and causing the second ball to hit a third is analogous to how
the mind and the body work together in interactionism.
The next type of substance dualism theory, Occasionalism, states the body and the mind
do not interact at all but instead proposes that the sensations we feel are instead due to God
(Calef 2009). A common example that is used to explain how this theory of mind and body is
that of a person who accidentally hits his or her thumb with a hammer and the sensation of pain
and discomfort that is felt shortly after the fact (Calef 2009). The Occasionalist theory of mind
and body states that instead of the system of nerve cells having the responsibility of transporting
the sense data of these stimuli from the environment to the brain it was instead an act of God
himself (Calef 2009). A good example that can be used to explain this theory of mind and body
to a Caribbean audience is the article written by Walter Robinson (2000) in the quote:

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Those who heeded Garveys words and looked to Selassieor rather "Ras
Tafari"withdrew from mainline Jamaican society. They also deemed traditional
Christianity to be "white religion"and rejected it as such. They also rejected
Western culture because they considered it to be the modern "Babylon." Some
Rastafarians also adopted ganja (i.e., marijuana) as their sacred "herb." Some
Rasta extremists also turned to acts of violence to further their goals.

My personal investigation has revealed that Rastafarians consider smoking
the "Holy Herb" to being filled with the Holy Spirit. The ancient Greeks and
Romans held to similar concepts. They sought alcoholic intoxication at the
Bacchanalian Festivals in order to become possessed by Bacchus (Roman) or
Dionysius (Greek)the god of wine, revelry, orgies, and ecstasy. Likewise,
American Indians took peyote or mescaline while Timothy Leery took LSD to
reach "spiritual highs." However, Paul stressed being "filled with the Holy Spirit"
in contrast to the contemporary and ungodly religious practices of his day by
saying; 18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess ( literally
"unsavedness"); but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the
Lord; (Ephesians 5:1819). (1)
What this quote is basically saying is that the Rastafarian rationale for the smoking of marijuana
is to receive the spirit of God. This means that they are attributing the effects of the smoking of
marijuana on the human body to the power of God. This belief is therefore occasionalist as it
severs the link between the mental and the physical and states that it is by the power of God that
we experience sensations.
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Parallelism is the substance dualist theory that is defined by the quote:
According to the parallelist, our mental and physical histories are coordinated so
that mental events appear to cause physical events (and vice versa) by virtue of
their temporal conjunction, but mind and body no more interact than two clocks
that are synchronized so that the one chimes when hands of the other point out the
new hour. Since this fantastic series of harmonies could not possibly be due to
mere coincidence, a religious explanation is advanced. God does not intervene
continuously in creation, as the occasionalist holds, but builds into creation a pre-
established harmony that largely eliminates the need for future interference.
(Calef, 2009).
This quote is basically saying that the mental events of the mind and the physical events of the
body have no causal link to one another whatsoever but they are instead coincidentally behaving
as if they are actually interacting. In this theory the mind and the body are running in parallel to
one another thus making the name of the theory a logical choice. The explanation that is given
for this is that it is God who synchronized our mental events and physical events to be this way.
One good real life example of Parallelism that can help to put this theory into perspective is the
Gleaner story on F.I.F.A.s suspension of the Trinidadian senior executive Jack Warner in light
of bribery allegations against him in the quote:
FIFA suspended senior executives Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack
Warner because of bribery allegations yesterday while exonerating President Sepp
Blatter in the gravest corruption crisis facing soccer's governing body.
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Blatter now is in line to be re-elected unopposed to a fourth term
Wednesday. His only challenger, Bin Hammam, withdrew his candidacy hours
before being excluded from all soccer activities by FIFA's ethics committee.
The panel said there was sufficient evidence to further investigate
allegations that bin Hammam and Warner offered $40,000 bribes to delegates at a
Caribbean soccer association meeting on May 10-11 in Trinidad.
alleged bribes
The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for bin Hammam, a
Qatari who heads Asia's soccer confederation, in his campaign to unseat Blatter.
The evidence was compiled by US executive committee member Chuck Blazer.
"I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks," Blatter said
in a statement. "FIFA's image has suffered a great deal as a result, much to the
disappointment of FIFA itself and all football fans."
"We are satisfied that there is a case to be answered," Petrus Damaseb,
deputy chairman of the ethics committee, said at a news conference at FIFA
Bin Hammam had asked the panel to investigate Blatter on grounds that he
knew of alleged bribe attempts and did nothing about it. (FIFA Clears President

The reason why this can be seen as a case of parallelism is that whatever attractiveness
Bim Hammam had as a candidate for the Presidency of FIFA would be running in parallel with
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the number of votes he would have been receiving in the elections if these allegations are true.
The reason for this is that voters would be voting for him on the basis of being bribed into voting
for him as opposed to actually believing that he was the best candidate for the job of President of
The next category of dualistic thought to analyze is Property Dualism. The definition for
the type of dualistic theory is given in the following quote: Another form of dualism is property
dualism. Property dualists claim that mental phenomena are non-physical properties of physical
phenomena, but not properties of non-physical substances. (Calef 2009). This statement is
basically stating that the mental events of the mind and the physical events of the body are
separate entities but unlike substance dualism asserts that the mental states are derived from the
physical states. A good example of this principle in the Caribbean context is the exhibition of the
paintings referred to in the quote:
It is poetically appropriate that Michael Parchment's current exhibition at
the Gallery Pegasus, Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, is entitled 'Intuition
His intuition spoke not only from the 28 canvases mounted for the June 8
launch but also from the two poems he read at the event, one of which was
entitled Up Afrikaans Up: 'You were fashioned out of black clay into the
similitude of your god, master and creator/ You are the first being to see the
sunlight/And manifestation of the gods..."
Poetry and painting came as an inseparable pair to Michael Parchment in
1979 and, in theme and in practice, they have remained entwined ever since. The
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sentiments of Up Afrikaans Up are reflected in the pieces mounted in the Gallery
Pegasus as Black people, from the Jesus figure and the angels in Angels Bow
Down Before Him to the gleeful bicycle riders in Down To the Wire, dominate.
In fact, all the people looking up at the soon-to-be-struck buildings in
'Rwin Towers' are also Black.
"It was from the poetry to the art within a month," Parchment said. "I
found myself being a black youth, living in the ghetto. The struggle was really
intensified, in that it forced me to come up with something out of nothing.
But the real thing was finding god... The concept is about finding god,
finding god first. It made all the difference," he said.
He has had six one-man exhibitions at various galleries previously which
is very close to the number of books that he has published. Inner Thoughts and
Feelings of the Poet came in 1983, followed by I Raged In Chain(1984), Serenade
of Love(1986), My Freedom Voice (1987) and Negro Cross Over (1989).( Cooke
The reason why this exhibition of art is a good way to explain the principle of Property
dualism of the mind and body is that there is property dualism within the paintings. This dualism
would come from the fact that the messages that are to be derived from his paintings transcend
the actual paint used to depict them.
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Epiphenomenalism is the theory that mental events are derived from physical events, but mental
events do not affect physical events (Calef, 2009). The name of the theory is derived from the fact that
mental events are seen as a secondary phenomenon or epiphenomenon of the physical events of which are
seen as the primary phenomenon (Robinson 1999). The way in which this would occur is that stimuli
from the environment would trigger the neural pathway to the brain which then processes it and produces
a quale (plural qualia), a subjective conscious experience, the first mental event, which then in turn
leads to the development of occurent propositonal attitudes such as intentions and beliefs, the second
mental event, but these attitudes do not themselves have any role to play throughout this entire physical
mechanism (Robinson 1999). A good analogy of how epiphenomenalists see the mind is the one used by
Thomas Henry Huxley in 1874 that described mental events as being like the steam whistle on a
locomotive as it contributes nothing to its movement (Robinson 1999). This is a logical analogy to make
as trains are complex machines just like human bodies, thus making the process of producing steam
comparable to the production of mental events in the brain.
This train analogy has become a particularly good analogy when it comes to explaining this
principle to Caribbean laymen. This is on account of the fact that the passenger train service in Jamaica is
being revived by the government (Quill 2011). This is a logical conclusion to come to as this will lead to
more exposure to trains by Caribbean people, particularly Jamaicans, thus making the analogy more
relevant over time.
In conclusion paralellism and dualism can be explained in a manner that can be understood within
the Caribbean context.