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The Philosophical Pre-History of the Duplex Mind

Paul Raekstad


According to the “Duplex Mind”, or dual process theory, there are two basic kinds of cognitive processes: type 1 processes operate automatically and involuntarily, operate independently of conscious processes, and are fast and effortless; whilst type 2 processes do not operate automatically, are associated with conscious awareness and control, and are comparatively slow and effortful. Such theories of human cognition are commonly held to go back to William James. This article argues that a fully-fledged dual process theory was already developed over 150 years prior to this, in the work of David Hume. Hume's innovation played a foundational role in subsequent Scottish Enlightenment work on ethical, social, political and historical theory.


David Hume; Psychology; Philosophy of Mind; Dual Process Theory; Duplex Mind

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