A gentleman once accused Jehovah's Witnesses of being dualists. He wrote:
"Perhaps more to the point, the JW (and, indeed, the Platonic approach, generally) association of our being and identity with something that is NOT that dust [of Genesis 2:7] is very troublesome. It's not just the JWs, of course, who do this; unreflective Christians have been doing this since the beginning."
I say that Jehovah's Witnesses believe the body + the breath of life mentioned in Genesis 2:7 jointly constitute the human soul (NEPES). Witnesses believe that humans do not have souls but are souls. According to Witness belief, I am body and the force that animates my being, which must include cognitive and conscious states. My own personal take on anthropology is that the self is neural (i.e. syntactic), as Joseph Ledoux argues. The self is ultimately realized brain activity (synaptic connections or higher-order brain processes). But there cannot be a neural self without the body proper, a point which neuroscientist Antonio Damasio helps us to appreciate.
My interlocutor then writes:
"As for your observation that hylomorphism is a type of dualism: I think you are greatly underestimating the distinctions between Plato's concept of the soul and Aristotle's (and Aquinas'). Applying the 'dualism' tag to the latter probably obscures a great deal more than it reveals, in my estimation."
MY RESPONSE: With all respect, I've taught classes about each one of these thinkers for a number of years and I've used Catholic, Protestant and secular works to do it. I believe that I understand the distinction between Platonic and Aristo-Thomist anthropology well. I don't see how one cannot place the label "dualism" on each one. Now to avoid conflation, I did call Aristotle's theory and that of Aquinas, "compound or holistic" dualism. Kevin J. Corcoran also uses this label. Furthermore, I've seen hylomorphism described similarly in major academic works.
"I think you may be missing the key elements of the Catholic thinking on this question and conflating that thinking with the more casual, 'folk' anthropology. Aquinas, for example, doesn't take the approach that he wants to show we have souls at all -- rather, he agrees with Aristotle that all living things have souls: you, me, my dog, a lion, whatever. The interesting question is: what kind of sould [SIC] do we have and how do they differ from those souls of lower animals. So, the kinds of questions you are asking in this paragraph are not going to be productive, since they are coming from a very different set of assumptions."
MY RESPONSE: In my view, it begs the question to assert that all living things have souls. How do we know (with any degree of objective certitude) that each living thing has a soul? Besides, I believe that Aristotle possibly means something different by the word "soul" than Thomas Aquinas does. Be that as it may, it seems to me that before we talk about rational, nutritive or sensitive souls (or elements of the soul), we should first try to determine whether or not souls (in the relevant sense) exist.
Interlocutor: "Finally, I'm not sure where, exactly, you are coming from. I thought I read you to say that you were in favor of some sort of materialism. If so, then I am confused that you find the body is not essential to identity. These seem to be quite contradictory statements, so I must be missing something."
MY RESPONSE: I do favor some kind of Christian materialism. IMO, Ledoux states matters almost exactly as I would put them: we are our synapses and the self is neural. But identity is a very complex notion. We humans cannot truly be selves without bodies: a brain is not much good if there is no body to accompany it. However, as Nancey Murphy has written, many factors contribute to our identity (memories, personal character, our external relations and human embodiment). In addition to Murphy's list, I might add DNA as a factor in identity (associated with embodiment). So, to answer your question, I think that I need A body to be identical to the person "Edgar Foster" but I don't need THIS particular body to preserve my personal identity. If time goes on, I'll die one day and THIS body will decompose as it returns to the dust. Let us assume that God will one day rearrange my decomposed body with the same atomic constituents that it formerly had, after it has decomposed. Would that reconstituted body be identical with the body that existed during my former lifetime on this earth? I think you run into the problem of Theseus' ship at this point. Either way, I believe it's fallacious to call Witnesses "dualists."