Chapter 6 : The Mind-Body Problem
Section 3: DUALISM
Now we shall examine dualism.
It is the first of the options on the Mind Body Problem.
It is the most popular conception, it appears as the most obvious
answer to the problem and it is the source of the problem all at the same
dualism, Cartesian interactionist
The view that: (1) the mental and
the material comprise two different classes of substance and; (2) both can
have causal effects on the other.
Plato thought that the soul could and would exist apart from the body and would exist after the death of the body. He offered a "proof" for this position and was the first to do so in writing that we have any evidence of doing so. He offered several different proofs or arguments none of which are convincing today. They are held to be specious arguments or terribly flawed and unconvincing. He held that humans were composed of bodies and souls but the soul was more important and immortal. His arguments used premises which we question today. For example, Plato thought that he could conclude that the soul could exist independent of the body because it acted independently from the body when it engaged in pure thought. This is no longer accepted as true since it is equally evident today that without a physical brain thought appears unlikely to occur. Plato thought that the only way to explain how people come to know things is that they are remembering the knowledge implanted in their souls when the souls were in the realm of pure thought and eternal forms before entering into the body after which they forgot as they became confused by physical emotions an feelings and limited experiences through the senses. This is no longer accepted as the best explanation of how people come to have knowledge. None the less, Plato is credited with being the first human to attempt to set out any sort of a proof that humans had souls and that they survived the death of the body and that they were immortal. He offered these arguments in the Dialogue he wrote titled the PHAEDO.
Descartesalso believed that the soul existed prior to and separate from the body (see Meditation II of Meditations on First Philosophy ) and so was immortal. In his view all of reality consisted of two very different substances: matter or the physical and spirit or the non-physical. The physical was what would be extended in time and space and the non-physical would not be so characterized. For Descartes the soul of a human exists prior to and separate from the body. His proof consisted of argumentation that has been seriously criticized and rejected. He thought that if he could in some form demonstrate that humans can prove that they exist without first proving that they have physical bodies then that would prove that they did not need a physical body in order to exist. He thought that his famous claim that " I think therefore I am" established not just that he existed but that he existed without a body as a "thinking thing". A "thinking thing" is a thing that thinks and by that would be included: imagining, conceiving, hoping, dreaming, desiring, fearing, conjecturing, reasoning, remembering and more. For him a "thinking thing" needed no physical parts to do what it does. Modern science has established that there is no evidence of humans that are without a physical body and its brain. There is no evidence that thought is possible without a brain. There is much evidence that what has been associated with Descartes' "thinking thing" is now explained solely in terms of the brain and how the brain is physically structured and the functioning of the brain.
(NOTE: You must read only
those linked materials that are preceded by the capitalized word READ.)
Interactionism - minds and
bodies exist and interact in some way
Epiphenomenalism - body acts on
mind but minds do NOT act on bodies
Double Aspect Theory-there is
one substance with two aspects (mind/body)
Parallelism -minds and bodies exist in separate dimensions and are
i. Pre-Established Harmony-minds and bodies are set in motion and
coordinated from the beginning of time by a deity that creates the
ii. Occasionalism- on the occasion of the mind making a decision the body
is moved by the creator (deity) to do whatever the mind has decided to
make the body do.
A. Interactionism: History and Critics
René Descartes to William James
by Robert H. Wozniak
RENÉ DESCARTES AND THE LEGACY OF MIND/BODY DUALISM
The 17th Century: Reaction to the Dualism of Mind and Body
The 18th Century: Mind, Matter, and Monism
The 19th Century: Mind and Brain
Mind, Brain, and Adaptation: the Localization of Cerebral Function
and Trauma: Functional Nervous Disorders and the
THE RISE OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
The 17th and 18th Centuries: The Epistemology of Mind
The 19th Century: The Epistemology of the Nervous System
Brain, and the Experimental Psychology of Consciousness
PSYCHOLOGY IN AMERICA
Mind, Body, and Culture: American Psychology before William James
2. Biological Consciousness and the Experience of the Transcendent: William James and American Functional Psychology By Eugene Taylor, Harvard University Medical School
Definitions of DUALISM
There are two variations on dualism with
regard to the Mind Body Problem.
is another view of the problem.
with dualism comes a number of problems.
The most conspicuous and troublesome are:
Where does the interaction take place?
How does the interaction take place?
The idea of the mental causing the physical to act appears to
violate the principle of the conservation of energy
The idea of two realities appears to violate Ockam’s Razor, the
principle of Simplicity, which holds that if there is no need to postulate
additional entities one should avoid doing so..
are some of the dualists’ responses to these points and objections to
them or criticisms of them.
entities do not have spatial properties, so there is no need to locate
them in physical space. Such
entities have there own metaphysical laws to follow.
God. Mind, spirit, souls all operate within that realm.
are those laws and how do they account for the results in the physical
Dualists claim that:
substances do not need to be similar in order to interact. b.There is also ample evidence that they do interact.
a) It was the dualists who established that the two substances were so
different that they could not interact.
The source of the problem is the dualist distinctions of the two
the evidence for interact could be explained in terms of brain actions
alone! The obviousness of
one’s causing one’s body to move by an act of the mind is not as
obvious as it seems.
mind may not add energy to a closed system, it may be simply redirecting
the energy already present.
How does the mind affect the redirection if the mind is not itself
made of energy or matter?
4.Dualists claim there is a compelling reason
to hold that there are two substances and not just one.
They claim it is needed to account for all phenomena of human
experience including consciousness.
The monists claim that it is
not necessary at all and that they have a satisfactory explanation of such
Please do view these two VIDEO from QualiaSoup on Substance Dualism - a good philosophical overview of the idea and problems with it.
Pt 1: (10:45)
Pt 2: (10:48)
Other Variations on Mind Body Dualism
on Mind Body Dualism
Interactionism - minds and bodies exist and interact in some way
body acts on mind but minds do NOT act on bodies
The Theory of William James (covered above)
C. Double Aspect Theory-there is one
substance with two aspects (mind/body)
The Theory of Spinoza criticized as equating to Interactionism
in Amsterdam, Spinoza spent his life as a lens grinder. A Jew who had been
expelled from the synagogue for unorthodoxy, he maintained few ties to
either Dutch or Jewish contemporaries and published little during his
lifetime. The metaphysical masterpiece,De
ethica, appeared in his Opera posthuma, first published in 1677. /In
order to retain the notion of God as the one true cause without
sacrificing the idea of causality as operative in both the mental and the
physical spheres, Spinoza abandoned Descartes' two-substance view in favor
of what has come to be called double-aspect theory. Double-aspect theories
are based on the notion that the mental and the physical are simply
different aspects of one and
the same substance. For Spinoza, that single substance was God. While
agreeing with Descartes that the world of consciousness and that of
extension are qualitatively separate, Spinoza rejected the Cartesian view
that consciousness and extension are attributes of two finite substances
in favor of the notion that they are attributes of only one infinite
substance. That substance, God, is the universal essence or nature of
everything that exists. The direct implication of Spinoza's view is that
while mental occurrences can determine only other mental occurrences and
physical motions can determine only other physical motions, mind and body
nonetheless exist in pre-established coordination, since the same divine
essence forms the connections within both classes and cannot be
self-contradictory. In the later half of the 19th century, dual-aspect
theories underwent a revival.
The two aspects of the one substance are either illusory or if real then
there is the dualism issue once again as to how they are to interact.
Parallelism -minds and
bodies exist in separate dimensions and are coordinated
i. Pre-Established Harmony-minds and bodies are set in motion and
coordinated from the beginning of time by a deity that creates the
another alternative to Cartesian interactionism is that of psychophysical
parallelism. This view retains both the dualism of mind and body and the
notion of a regular correlation between mental and physical events, but
avoids any assumption of causal mind/body connection, direct or indirect.
Psychophysical parallelism eschews interactionism on the grounds that
events so totally dissimilar as those of mind and body could not possibly
affect one another. It also rejects occasionalism and dual-aspect theory
on the grounds that no third entity, whatever that might be, could be
responsible for such vastly different effects. Parallelists simply accept
the fact that every mental event is correlated with a physical event in
such a way that when one occurs, so too does the other.
in this form is usually traced to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716).
Historian, mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat, Leibniz
was born and received most of his education in Leipzig. In 1676, after a
period at Mainz and four years at Paris, he went to Hanover, where he
spent the remainder of his life. An inveterate correspondent, contributor
to scholarly journals, and creator of manuscripts, much of Leibniz' most
important work was embodied in letters, published in article form, or left
unpublished at his death.
the Système nouveau de la nature (1695) and the Eclaircissement du
nouveau sisteme (1696), Leibniz presented the famous articulation of
psychophysical parallelism in which he adapted an occasionalist metaphor
to support the view that soul and body exist in a pre-established harmony.
Comparing soul and body to two clocks that agree perfectly, Leibniz argued
that there are only three possible sources for this agreement. It may
occur through mutual influence (interactionism), through the efforts of a
skilled workman who regulates the clocks and keeps them in accord (occasionalism),
or by virtue of the fact that they have been so constructed from the
outset that their future harmony is assured (parallelism). Leibniz rejects
interactionism because it is impossible to conceive of material particles
passing from one substance to the other and occasionalism as invoking the
intervention of a Deus ex machina in a natural series of events. All that
remains is parallelism -- the notion that mind and body exist in a harmony
that has been pre- established by God from the moment of creation.
This theory seriously challenges notions of human freedom.
on the occasion of the mind making a decision the body is moved by the
creator (deity) to do whatever the mind has decided to make the body do.
the natural world is radically divided into the mental and the physical
such that the physical is extended in space and
mental is not, and if the nature of causality is such that causes and
effects must have a necessary connection and be of a similar type, then
mind/body interactionism of the Cartesian sort is obviously untenable.
Perhaps the first important attempt to deal with this contradiction in
Descartes is that known as occasionalism. Although preceded and influenced
by Le discernement du corps et de l'ame (1666) of Géraud de Cordemoy (d.
1684), the work of Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) was probably the most
influential purveyor of occasionalism.
in Paris and educated at the Collège de La Marche and the Sorbonne,
Malebranche began to read Descartes in 1664.
Objection: This theory would make God an accomplice in every evil act.
attempt to defend the dualism
of MIND and
BODY meets with objections.
If you want to take the dualist position that we have both a physical and non-physical mind that position needs to be defended with reasoning and evidence and not merely made to rest on FAITH BASED CLAIM. In Philosophy it must be supported by reasoning and evidence. There must be both the exposition of the problem with the dualkist claim and its solution. The dualist position creates the mind body problem! What is needed is a response to all the criticisms of the dualist position? Remember it is the one position that creates the problem. A dualist needs to account for all the evidence that disproves dualism and then needs to bridge the gap between the non-physical and the physical and solve the problem of interaction.
Dualists also nee to be aware that there is no claim about what a non-physical mind does that has not been demonstrated to be the result of BRAIN activity and functioning. Neuroscience discredits the claim of a non-physical mind. What evidence is offered by contemporary dualists of the existence of a non-physical mind?
Mind refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination, including all of the brain's conscious and unconscious cognitive processes. "Mind" is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason. Subjectively, mind manifests itself as a stream of consciousness. READ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind
If this is the definition of mind then reflexes, controlled responses, survival instincts are not part of the mind but actually a part of the brain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain
We shall now turn to the monist views.
Proceed to the next section.
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