Beyond Dualism: A Review of Mind and Body in Early China

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James D. Sellmann


This book rightly argues for greater inclusion of the natural and social sciences in the humanities, especially philosophy. The author draws from psychology, especially folk psychology, to show that a basic trait of universal human cognition contains a form of weak dualism. It is a dualism based on the embodied awareness that one’s own thoughts are different from external objects, which generates the belief in a mind/body dualism. The book offers a great deal of evidence that the ancient Chinese embraced a weak mind/body dualism. The author criticizes most philosophers who have proposed a mind/body holism. Because the author admits that correlative thinking is also a function of universal human cognition, I propose that what he refers to as weak mind/body dualism is actually a form of mind/body nondualism. The book cites many examples of how cross-culturally people depict the disembodied spirit in a spiritual-bodily or ghostly-apparition form. The author of this review argues that dualism is another form of the Orientalism that the book wants to avoid, and one way to avoid Orientalism-dualism would be to embrace the correlative, nondual mind/body relationship.

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How to Cite
Sellmann, J. (2019). Beyond Dualism: A Review of Mind and Body in Early China. Journal of World Philosophies, 4(2), 166-172. Retrieved from
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Author Biography

James D. Sellmann

James D. Sellmann is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Guam. He specializes in Chinese and comparative philosophies, Micronesian Studies, and the history of religions and psychology, bringing a social science perspective to his work.