Mind and Body





Mind and Body

Descartes’ states that feelings can either come from within the host or from interactions with external forces and objects. He further argues that the mind and body are distinct entities given that they share very little similarities in operation and state. Whereas the body can freely interact with its surroundings, the mind is stationery taking on a more passive interaction role. Had Descartes’ had the equipment we have today, he could have discovered that the mind and body are inherently interlinked and interdependent. Ryle’s refutes these claims by asserting that Descartes’ theory implies that the mind can go on living despite the body being dead. Ryle argues that Descartes’ theory, or myth as he calls it, cannot hold water. This was because they did not conform to any of the knowledge available at the time about the mind and body. Taylor asserts that there is only matter in the end and that the mind and body argument is moot. Jackson later argued that mental life is too intricate to be fully explicable through analysis of physical information. He attests his assertions to the sheer difficulty that explaining simple things like the smell of a flower can be. Even armed with all the knowledge that is present about the brain, the explanation would still be highly theoretical and subjective.

Later, the physicalism theory attempted to make heads and tails of the mind-body debate by using two distinct approaches. The first theory, the identity theory, states that the mind and body have significant physical similarities and are therefore similar. The second, eliminativism, states that the mind and the brain are one and the same. It bases its premise on common sense and suggests the elimination of subjective languages from vocabularies. This view would however make it hard to express emotions like love as they are not logical in nature. Churchland reviewed Descartes’ theories on dualism and asserts that physicalism trumps the former. He argues that physicalism or materialism is more focused hence more practical than dualism. He further notes that materialism provides more insights and has a larger scope than dualism. Churchland’s claims were later refuted by Nagel. Nagel claimed that to physicalism and materialism failed to take into consideration a being’s consciousness. This consciousness, he argued, was the building blocks for perception and interpretation. He further stated that though these can be different in different organisms, it does not mean that they do not exist. This train of thought is called reductionism. He argued that perception and response were unique to different individuals due to their difference in experiences and environment.

Lewis later attempts to answer Nagel using knowledge and referring to the brain as a computer. Lewis argues that knowledge is not the gathering and storage of information. He argues that it is rather the usage of gathered information and knowledge to narrow down possibilities. Much like computers use their programming to make sense of data, so does the brain use past experiences to sift through new information. Montero later states that the subject of physicality is highly subjective (Montero 185). She argues that there is a need to first have a workable definition of what pertains physical and what criteria should be applied to the classification. Montero argues that without sufficient predetermined metrics for physicality, all arguments on the physicality or otherwise of the mind and its constructs will be baseless. These baseless arguments will further create logical and categorical fallacies.


Works Cited

Montero, Barbara. The Body Problem and Other Foundational Issues in the Metaphysics of Mind. , 2000. Print.

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