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In fact, the tenets of Christian dogma, eventually wedded to a fundamentally Aristotelian outlook, conspired to suppress any idea that consciousness or mind could be, should be, or needed to be explained in naturalistic terms. It was the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries that forced the problem into prominence. Galileo’s distinction between primary and secondary properties, crucial for the development of science insofar as it freed science from a hopelessly premature attempt to explain complex sensible qualities in mechanical terms, explicitly set up an opposition between matter and consciousness: ‘I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on are no more than mere names so far as the object in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in the consciousness.

This explains the apparent linkage between mind and body – both are merely aspects of the same underlying substance – while at the same time preserving the causal completeness of each realm. In the illustrative scholium to proposition seven of book two of the Ethics (1677/1985 ) Spinoza writes, ‘A circle existing in nature and the idea of the existing circle, which is also in God, are one and the same thing . . therefore, whether we conceive nature under the attribute of Extension, or under the attribute of Thought .

Which presses the organ proper to each sense . . which pressure, by the mediation of the nerves . . continues inwards to the brain . . ’ (165 1/1998, pt. 1, ch. 1). Hobbes goes out of his way to stress that there is nothing immaterial, occult, or supernatural here; there is just the various ways that physical events influence our material sense organs: ‘neither in us that are pressed are they anything else but divers motions; for motion produceth nothing but motion’ (165 1/1998, pt. 1, ch. 1).

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