Why is Descartes theory of the mind characterized as “dualistic interactionism”?
The “dualistic” part refers to his argument that there are two fundamental substances to nature. Everything, all the stuff that exists, is either matter (which has properties like extension), or mind (which has properties like thinking, and is not extended). The interactionism part means, quite simply, that these two substances – mind and matter/body – interact. You may think, “why even add that part?” Well, it’s a difficult question, which Descartes was never able to resolve, as to how these two substances can in principle interact with each other. Matter, according to the laws of physics now and then, can only be influenced by matter (energy and fields of force are the same stuff). It’s also conceptually difficult to imagine something that doesn’t exist in space like the res cogitans being able to affect or be affected by spatial objects. Solutions to this problem have been to invoke God, who somehow connects the mind with the body and insures cooperation. Not dualistic interactionis