Mind-Body Problem

Mind-Body Problem

1. Introduction

The mind-body problem is a philosophical problem that is concerned with the issue of the relationship between the mind and the body. According to Descartes, the mind is a non-extended thing because the mind and body are two completely different substances, the mind being a thinking unextended substance, and the body an extended unthinking substance. This means that they cannot be the same thing nor can they be causally dependent on each other. Leading to his conclusion that the mind is better known than the body – this is the foundation of his argument and is based on the nature of the attributes. This is questioned by Malebranche, “I would never have known that I had a body if I hadn’t been taught it.” Suggesting that Descartes was wrong because it is evident that we are intimately conjoined with the body to the extent that we feel pain when it is harmed, thus it seems that the mind is more intimately known to the body. Spinoza and Leibniz further go on to develop and clarify Descartes’ dualism and are thereby regarded as “substance dualists”. They support his idea that the mind and body are two different substances, the mind a spiritual unextended substance, and the body a material extended substance. However, they thought that Descartes wasn’t completely clear upon this and sought to define his dualism but in doing so they actually made things clearer for critics of dualism and made the mind-body problem more evident. This was because for the mind to interact with the body there must be some form of causal interaction between the two whereby it would be possible for an action to have an effect and vice versa. Now the problem comes in at how this can occur, as a non-extended thing can only have an effect on another thing of a similar attribute and any effect that a thing has is made to a similarly attribute thing. Thus a non-extended thing can only have an effect on another non-extended thing, yet the mind is supposed to be affecting an extended thing (the body) and having feelings of things like heat and pain which are attributes of the body. Therefore, the interaction between mind and body seems to be impossible. Malebranche and Descartes both recognized this problem and said that the only interaction is that the mind has on the body but caused an occasionalistic theory of mind-body interaction. This was because they thought that human beings always make mistakes in judgment and by judging that we have an effect on the body we are always wrong. This is because effects are only caused by similar attributes, now the body is a complex machine and there are so many different ways to cause an effect whereas the mind is not and any effect by the mind would only be a single cause. Temporal coherence is no guarantee of causal coherence and it is often by chance that a sequence of things occurring seem to be linked with a cause and effect relationship. Thus it is only by accident that a sequence of events in the mind has an effect on something in the body. This theory avoided the infinite regress problem that was faced by the next theory but was criticized because it claimed that mind-body interactions were only accidents and all errors are irremediable.

2. Dualism and Materialism

Much later, in the 17th century, Descartes adapted the idea of dualism into an argument that is still quoted by modern dualists in defense of their position. He began by acknowledging that the only thing of which one can be certain is that one exists. The one thing of which we can be sure is that we are thinking creatures. This, in fact, forms the basis of his famous Cartesian Cogito argument, which purports to prove the existence of the soul as a non-extended, non-physical substance. He states in the Meditations that he can clearly and distinctly perceive himself without a body, and that this is a simple and undoubted self-perception. He also attempted to draw a clear distinction between mental states and physical states, and that this has also reinforced the idea that the mind is a non-physical thing. He thought that all reasoning takes place in the mind, and that even the most simple reflex action takes place through the medium of the pineal gland. The simple fact that the pineal gland was a single organ with no pair led him to believe that this is where the mind interacted with the body. All these are just a few examples of how dualists have varied in their beliefs of what the mind is and its connection to the body, but it is the basis for the mind as a non-physical substance and the body as a purely physical machine.

Dualism is an ancient concept that originated with the Greeks, in particular with Plato and Aristotle. Plato thought there could be no good explanation of the living body and its activities without reference to the soul, and he thought that the soul could exist apart from the body, after death. It embodied the idea of the real self; a man could lose a limb or be subject to total amnesia but would still be the same person. The soul is the source of life and motion in the body. Aristotle, however, is more difficult to classify as a dualist. He did talk of the soul as the form of the body, and he often seems to identify the soul with the personality or the ‘inner self’.

3. Philosophical Perspectives

Descartes identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness. He was certain that thought existed and had real power because it was the only thing that could not be separated from him. He concluded that he was a thing that thinks. Now, using a piece of wax, he raised a variety of questions about how we really know the nature of a thing. He continued to show how the senses could not be trusted and how they often lead us to conclusions that we know to be false. Since the only knowledge that can be considered certain must come from reason and not the senses, he concluded that the piece of wax is, in fact, the same piece of wax he took it to be when he was using his senses, even though it has now melted and changed shape, so there is no possibility that it is the same as he can see or touch. The only way to perceive the wax now was to use the mind. Since the mind clearly said that it was the same piece of wax, it must be done through some non-physical substance. This example shows that the piece of wax, a material object, has changed form but is still thought to be the same piece of wax through the mind. According to Descartes, the link between mind and body is a two-way interaction. The senses provide the mind with ideas, which are then considered and can affect the body as action.

The study of mind has always been about understanding the nature of mind, and many philosophers have developed theories in this connection. One of the famous theories is dualism, which was developed by Descartes. The dualist perspective has strongly influenced Western thought. The term dualism has a variety of uses in the history of thought. In general, it means the view that there are two kinds of things in the world. According to dualism, the mind is a non-physical entity, and the body is a physical entity. Descartes’ theory of mind and body dualism represents the most famous formulation of the mind-body problem. Descartes’ theory was based on the view that human beings are not merely physical objects. He believed that the body, like any other machine, was a material entity, while the mind was different from the body in that it was a non-material thinking thing.

4. Scientific Approaches

In Chapter 4, the author delves into the four scientific inquiries that all deal with understanding the relationship between the mental and the physical. The first approach is the casual interaction of mental and physical phenomena. This approach falls short due to its lack of clarity and that it is based on the assumption that mental and physical events are different types of events. The second approach is the cross-spatial identity approach and it’s said that X and Y are identical if X and Y are the same thing, which is defined differently. This approach is problematic because it cannot cope with the fact that mental phenomena can have casual effects on physical phenomena, yet mental states can be identical with physical states. The third approach is casual interaction but it deals with identifying types of events instead of mental and physical being separate events. This states that if mental events cause or are affected by physical events then they are identical with those physical events. This attempted to get around the problem of dualist interaction but identity is not type causation. This approach was later given up by type identity theorists because it could not be transformed into defined laws. The fourth approach through functional in cognitive psychology is the first approach translated into controlled experiments. Although cognitive psychology has had demonstrated success, it has yet to study consciousness and is still not equipped with a philosophy of science.

5. Implications and Future Directions

Some of the implications of the psychological model are not more than a foreseeable upshot of acceptance of the mind-brain identity theory. If the mind is in fact a system software, then we can perform that an eating cannot only affect the brain in basic and physical ways acing a sports education and learning a text will effect a mind to varying degrees of intensity. If the mind is a system software, then it possible to affect damage to it in the similar ways cost to a vehicle can impair its functioning. This necessitate of burden in the future may someday guide to development a psychology to a level with current twenty first century physiological medicine. This medicine would deal essentially with mental illness and would have tools and methods not only for cure but also to exactingly predict the effects of interference on a patient’s functional capacities. The outcome of this with an improved effectiveness in curing mental illness, could be the phase out of the available view of mental illness as differences in brain functioning from the colloquial concept of psychogenic mental disorders.

The mind-brain identity theory has yet some different implications. Throughout the last 30 years, there has lots of words heated debate regarding existence of consciousness and its likely place in the general hypothetical system of the universe. If consciousness were an emergent chattel property of incredibly intricate systems, and was neither odd nor immeasurable, it could be stated that consciousness is the global term for functional states of intricate task-specific system software run by the brain. This vary of views would the concept of an “upper level” psychology, with reduced emphasis on cause-and-effect relations between environmental factors and easy nonvolitional behaviour, and bigger emphasis on understanding the system software to varying degrees and so devising ways to change task-specific functional states in intentional ways. It could be seen as move away from current folk psychology to an actual scientific psychology. Now, in so far as it may Psycho as it exists today, is a discipline where a better understanding of mental disorders often consists in the form of causal hypothetical constructs yet it is widely admits its usefulness for things such as doing something to alleviate depression. Induced change in functional states still constitutes a practical objective in its own right, and it no do we foresee the possibility of travel back to the lost of Unintentional change.

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