In this paper I analyze Descartes's puzzling claim that the mind is whole in the whole body and whole in its parts, what Henry More called "holenmerism". I explain its historical background, in particular in scholasticism. I argue that like his predecessors, Descartes uses the idea for two purposes, for mind-body interaction and for the union of body and mind.
I here address Descartes' account of human nature as a union of mind and body by appealing to The Passions of the Soul. I first show that Descartes takes us to be able to reform the naturally instituted associations between bodily and mental states. I go on to argue that Descartes offers a teleological explanation of body-mind associations (those instituted both by nature and by artifice). This explanation sheds light on the ontological status of the union. I suggest (...) that it affords a way of understanding how mind and body form a true unit without compromising Descartes' dualism. (shrink)
This paper examines Descartes's third primary notion and the distinction between different kinds of knowledge based on different and mutually irreducible primary notions. It discusses the application of the notions of clearness and distinctness to the domain of knowledge based on that of mind-bodyunion. It argues that the consequences of the distinctions Descartes is making with regard to our knowledge of the human mind and nature are rather different from those that have been attributed to Descartes due (...) to the influential Rylean picture of Cartesian mind-body dualism. (shrink)
I contend that Descartes’s view of mind-bodyunion is not a Platonic view in which the soul uses the body as its vehicle, but hylomorphic in that mind and body form a single unit. I argue that Descartes’s view is most like Ockham’s, and therefore Descartes is entitled to maintain a hylomorphic theory to the same extent that Ockham is. I argue further that the soul is the substantial form of human being, and that mind and body are (...) incomplete substances that are substantially united to form the human substance. Finally, I address Descartes’s claim that the whole soul has its principle seat in the pineal gland, and conclude that this does not imply a Platonic view as one might suspect. This hylomorphic interpretation avoids the problem of mind-body interaction, which might be seen as preventing the possibility of the soul’s immortality, because an explanation of the behavior of one entity is required instead of an explanation of the interaction between two, apparently incompatible, entities. (shrink)
In order to explain the possibility of causal interaction between the mind and the body, Descartes claims that they are substantially united. It is argued that descartes is unsuccessful in reconciling this union with the radical dualism which is fundamental to his philosophy. Recent claims that the union of mind and body poses no problem for descartes are shown to be untenable.
In his "Meditations on First Philosophy", Descartes argues for there being a radical difference between mind and body. Yet, we know that mind and body interest. How is this possible? Descartes's answer tothis question is that human nature is a "substantial union" of mind and body. In this essay, Descartes's solution is explained and critically examined.
Descartes held that the human mind or soul is indivisible, unlike body. In this paper I argue that his treatment of this feature of the soul is intimately connected to his engagement with Aristotelian scholasticism. I discuss two strands in Descartes. There is a long tradition of arguing for the immortality of the human soul on the basis of this view. Descartes did use this view in defense of dualism, but I argue that he held that the soul’s immortality should (...) be established rather on the basis of its status as a substance. This line of thought, I contend, is connected to his rejection of (most) Aristotelian substantial forms. Furthermore, the indivisibility of the human soul emerges repeatedly in connection to the union and interaction of mind and body in ways that connect to Aristotelian scholastic treatments of these issues. (shrink)
Taking into account the difficulties that all attempts at a solution of the problem of causal-explanatory exclusion have experienced, we analyze in this paper the chances that mind-body causation is a case of overdetermination, a line of attack that has scarcely been explored. Our conclusion is that claiming that behaviors are causally overdetermined cannot solve the problem of causal-explanatory exclusion. The reason is the problem of massive coincidence, that can only be avoided by establishing a relation between mind and (...) body; that is, by denying overdetermination. The only way to defend that mind-body causation is a case of overdetermination would be by denying any modal force whatever to the principle of the causal closure of the physical, and this is a claim we would not like to reject. (shrink)
In his Meditations, Rene Descartes asks, "what am I?" His initial answer is "a man." But he soon discards it: "But what is a man? Shall I say 'a rational animal'? No: for then I should inquire what an animal is, what rationality is, and in this way one question would lead down the slope to harder ones." Instead of understanding what a man is, Descartes shifts to two new questions: "What is Mind?" and "What is Body?" These questions develop (...) into Descartes's main philosophical preoccupation: the Mind-Body distinction. How can Mind and Body be independent entities, yet joined--essentially so--within a single human being? If Mind and Body are really distinct, are human beings merely a "construction"? On the other hand, if we respect the integrity of humans, are Mind and Body merely aspects of a human being and not subjects in and of themselves? For centuries, philosophers have considered this classic philosophical puzzle. Now, in this compact, engaging, and long-awaited work UCLA philosopher Joseph Almog closely decodes the French philosopher's argument for distinguishing between the human mind and body while maintaining simultaneously their essential integration in a human being. He argues that Descartes constructed a solution whereby the trio of Human Mind, Body, and Being are essentially interdependent yet remain each a genuine individual subject. Almog's reading not only steers away from the most popular interpretations of Descartes, but also represents a scholar coming to grips directly with Descartes himself. In doing so, Almog creates a work that Cartesian scholars will value, and that will also prove indispensable to philosophers of language, ontology, and the metaphysics of mind. (shrink)
Intuitions based on the first-person perspective can easily mislead us about what is and is not conceivable.1 This point is usually made in support of familiar reductionist positions on the mind-body problem, but I believe it can be detached from that approach. It seems to me that the powerful appearance of contingency in the relation between the functioning of the physical organism and the conscious mind -- an appearance that depends directly or indirectly on the first- person perspective -- (...) must be an illusion. But the denial of this contingency should not take the form of a reductionist account of consciousness of the usual type, whereby the logical gap between the mental and the physical is closed by conceptual analysis -- in effect, by analyzing the mental in terms of the physical (however elaborately this is done -- and I count functionalism as such a theory, along with the topic-neutral causal role analyses of mental concepts from which it descends). (shrink)
This collection of new essays put the debates on the mind-body problem into historical context. The discussions range from Aristotle, Aquinas and Descartes to the origins of the qualia and intentionality.
It is widely held that the current debate on the mind-body problem in analytic philosophy began during the 1950s at two distinct sources: one in America, de- riving from Herbert Feigl's writings, and the other in Australia, related to writings by U. T. Place and J. J. C. Smart (Feigl  1967). Jaegwon Kim recently wrote that "it was the papers by Smart and Feigl that introduced the mind-body problem as a mainstream metaphysical Problematik of analytical philosophy, and (...) launched the debate that has continued to this day" (Kim 1998, 1). Nonetheless, it is not at all obvious why these particular articles sparked a debate, nor why Feigl's work in particular came to play such a prominent part in it, nor how and to what extent Feigl's approach rests on the logical empiricism he endorsed. (shrink)
The Mind/Body Problem (M/BP) is about causation not correlation. And its solution (if there is one) will require a mechanism in which the mental component somehow manages to play a causal role of its own, rather than just supervening superflously on other, nonmental components that look, for all the world, as if they can do the full causal job perfectly well without it. Correlations confirm that M does indeed "supervene" on B, but causality is needed to show how/why M is (...) not supererogatory; and that's the hard part. (shrink)
This paper contrasts two approaches to the mind-body problem and the possibility of mental causation: the conceptual approach advocated by Collingwood/Dray and the metaphysical approach advocated by Davidson. On the conceptual approach to show that mental causation is possible is equivalent to demonstrating that mentalistic explanations possess a different logical structure from naturalistic explanations. On the metaphysical approach to show that mental causation is possible entails explaining how the mind can intelligibly be accommodated within a physicalist universe. I argue (...) that the conceptual approach offers a much more powerful defence of the autonomy of the mental. (shrink)
Understanding the place of thought and feeling in the natural world is central to that general comprehension of nature, as well as that special self-understanding, which are the primary goals of science and philosophy. The general form of the project, which has exercised scientists and philosophers since the ancient world, is given by the question, ‘What is the relation, in general, between mental and physical phenomena?’ There is no settled agreement on the correct answer. This is the single most important (...) gap in our understanding of the natural world. The trouble is that the question presents us with a problem: each possible answer to it has consequences that appear unacceptable. This problem has traditionally gone under the heading ‘The Mind–Body Problem.’1 My primary aim in this chapter is to explain in what this traditional mind–body problem consists, what its possible solutions are, and what obstacles lie in the way of a resolution. (shrink)
This work speaks about very special solution of the mind–body problem. This solution based on the so-called Principle of Co-existence stands out as one of the most interesting attempts at solving the mind–body problem. It states that substances can only exert a mutual influence on one another if they have something in common. This does not have to be a common property but rather, a binding relationship. Thus, substances co-exist when they remain bound by a common relationship, for instance, to (...) an external subject. The Principle of Co-existence played an extremely important role in Kant’s philosophy, not only since it provided a framework for solving the mind–body problem, but since it captured the very basis of its existence. The Principle found also reflection in the works of Kant’s successors, such as Fichte, Schelling, Hegel or Feuerbach. It had significant—though often hidden—repercussions on later philosophy of mind. The notion of force and the principle of its operation became key concepts in resolving the mind–body problem. As a result, philosophy of mind concentrated on the search for a principle explaining the occurrence of two complementary types of phenomena. This established a tradition which, to a greater or lesser extent, has survived to our day. (shrink)
Most scholars who presently deal with the Mind-Body problem consider themselves monist materialists. Nevertheless, many of them also assume that there exist (in some sense of existence) mental entities. But since these two positions do not harmonize quite well, the literature is full of discussions about how to reconcile the positions. In this paper, I will defend a materialist theory that avoids all these problems by completely rejecting the existence of mental entities. This is Quine's repudiation theory. According to (...) the theory, there are no mental entities, and the behavioral or physiological phenomena that have been attributed to mental entities, or that point to the existence of these entities, are exclusively caused by physiological factors. To be sure, several objections have been raised to materialist theories that do not assign some role to mental entities. But we will see that Quine is able to give convincing replies to these objections. (shrink)
It has become evident that mind–body supervenience, as merely specifying a covariance between mental and physical properties, is consistent with clearly non-physicalist views of the mental, such as emergentism. Consequently, there is a push in the physicalist camp for an ontologically more robust supervenience, a “superdupervenience,” that ensures that properties supervening on physical properties are physicalistically acceptable. Jessica Wilson claims that supervenience is made superduper by Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): each individual causal power associated with a supervenient property is (...) numerically identical with a causal power associated with its base property. Furthermore, according to Wilson, a wide variety of physicalist positions, both reductive and non-reductive, can be seen as relying on CCP to ensure that properties supervening on physical properties are physicalistically acceptable. I argue that imposing CCP on mind–body supervenience fails to ensure that mental properties are physicalistically acceptable. The problem, I contend, is that while CCP may guard against supervenient mental properties being insufficiently grounded in their physical bases it fails to guard against supervenient mental properties being too deeply grounded in their physical bases. (shrink)
Cartesian mind body dualism and modern versions of this viewpoint posit a mind thermodynamically unrelated to the body but informationally interactive. The relation between information and entropy developed by Leon Brillouin demonstrates that any information about the state of a system has entropic consequences. It is therefore impossible to dissociate the mind's information from the body's entropy. Knowledge of that state of the system without an energetically significant measurement would lead to a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.
We present the first large-scale, quantitative examination of mind and body concepts in a set of historical sources by measuring the predictions of folk mind–body dualism against the surviving textual corpus of pre-Qin (pre-221 BCE) China. Our textual analysis found clear patterns in the historically evolving reference of the word xin (heart/heart–mind): It alone of the organs was regularly contrasted with the physical body, and during the Warring States period it became less associated with emotions and increasingly portrayed as the (...) unique locus of “higher” cognitive abilities. We interpret this as a semantic shift toward a shared cognitive bias in response to a vast and rapid expansion of literacy. Our study helps test the proposed universality of folk dualism, adds a new quantitative approach to the methods used in the humanities, and opens up a new and valuable data source for cognitive scientists: the record of dead minds. (shrink)
Recent developments in cognitive science provide compelling leads that need to be interpreted and synthesized within the context of semiotic and biosemiotic principles. To this end, we examine the impact of the mind-body unity on the sorts of choices that an organism is predisposed to making from its Umwelt. In multicellular organisms with brains, the relationship that an organism has with its Umwelt impacts on neural plasticity, the functional specialisations that develop within the brain, and its behaviour. Clinical observations, (...) such as those recorded by Norman Doidge, as well as historical observations from outside the field of semiotics (Plato, Aristotle, Hume) shed further light on this process, and serve to further substantiate our semiotic and biosemiotic paradigm. Our analysis develops a rather limited associationism (with reference to Peirce’s categories) into a more general and robust interpretation that is applicable to all mind-bodies, whether they be neurons, paramecia and amoebae, or humans, cats and dogs. Biosemiotics is a more universal semiotics that takes us beyond the confines of anthropocentrism, because it recognizes the role of the body in shaping Mind. (shrink)
Through the ages, Christians have almost automatically been Mind-Body dualists. The Bible portrays us as spiritual beings, and one obvious way to be a spiritual being is to be (or to have) an immaterial soul. Since it is also evident that we have bodies, Christians naturally have thought of themselves as composite beings, made of two substances—a material body and a nonmaterial soul. Despite the historical weight of this position, I do not think that it is required either by (...) Scripture or by Christian doctrine as it has developed through the ages. So, I want to argue that there is a Christian alternative to Mind-Body Dualism, and that the reasons in favor of the alternative outweigh those in favor of Mind-Body Dualism. (shrink)
I argue that Descartes treated the action of body on mind differently from the action of mind on body, as was common in the period. Descartes explicitly denied that there is a problem for interaction but his descriptions of interaction seem to suggest that he thought there was a problem. I argue that these descriptions are motivated by a different issue, the seemingly arbitrary connections between particular physical states and the particular mental states they produce. Within scholasticism there was already (...) a (yet different) problem concerning action of body on mind. I offer a comparison between Descartes and the scholastics. (shrink)
This is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the history of understanding of the human mind or soul and its relationship to the body, through the course of more than two thousand years. Thirteen specially commissioned chapters, each written by a recognized expert, discuss such figures as the doctors Hippocrates and Galen, the theologians St Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, and philosophers from Plato to Leibniz.
* Argument from authoritative self-knowledge ("privileged access" to one's own mental states) 1. We have a "privileged access" to our own mental states in the sense we have the authority on what mental states we are in. 2. Through introspection, we are aware of our mental states but not aware of them as physical states of any sort or as functional states. 3. Therefore, our mental states cannot be physical states.
At the very heart of the mind-body problem is the question of the nature of consciousness. It is consciousness, and in particular _phenomenal_ consciousness, that makes the mind-body relation so deeply perplexing. Many philosophers hold that no defi nition of phenomenal consciousness is possible: any such putative defi nition would automatically use the concept of phenomenal consciousness and thus render the defi nition circular. The usual view is that the concept of phenomenal consciousness is one that must be (...) explained by means of specifi c examples and associated comments. (shrink)
The idea that we may continue to exist in a bodiless condition after our death has long played an important role in beliefs about immortality, ultimate rewards and punishments, the transmigration of souls, and the like. There has also been long and heated disagreement about whether the idea of disembodied existence even makes sense, let alone whether anybody can or does survive dissolution of his material form. It may seem doubtful that anything new could be added to the debate at (...) this late date, but I hope to show that this is not so. I will explore the problem of disembodiment from a somewhat different direction than has been tried before, one that leads to what seem to me more interesting and more definite conclusions about its unintelligibility. Furthermore, the approach I will be taking puts both the traditional mind-body problem and the competing claims of dualism and physicalism in a fresh light that can help us to understand better the nature of our embodied existence. (shrink)
Assuming that the qualities of immediate experience ('sentience') are the subjective aspect of the neurophysiological cerebral processes, And assuming that all behavior is ultimately susceptible to physical explanation, There are a number of ways in which mind-Body monism can be stated. But there are also a number of serious difficulties for a logically coherent formulation of the identity thesis of the mental and the physical.
Sergio Moravia's The Enigma of the Mind (originally published in Italian as L'enigma della mente) offers a broad and lucid critical and historical survey of one of the fundamental debates in the philosophy of mind - the relationship of mind and body. This problem continues to raise deep questions concerning the nature of man. The book has two central aims. First, Professor Moravia sketches the major recent contributions to the mind/body problem from philosophers of mind. Having established this framework Professor (...) Moravia pursues his second aim - the articulation of a particular interpretation of the mental and the mind-body problem. The book's detailed and systematic treatment of this fundamental philosophical issue make it ideal for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in epistemology and the philosophy of mind. It should also prove provocative reading for psychologists and cognitive scientists. (shrink)
It is asked to what extent answers to such questions as ?Can machines think??, ?Could robots have feelings?? might be expected to yield insight into traditional mind?body questions. It has sometimes been assumed that answering the first set of questions would be the same as answering the second. Against this approach other philosophers have argued that answering the first set of questions would not help us to answer the second. It is argued that both of these assessments are mistaken. It (...) is then claimed, although not argued in detail, that the following three approaches to the first set of questions are mistaken: (1) machines (and robots) obviously cannot think, feel, create, etc., since they do only what they are programmed to do; (2) on the basis of ah analysis of the meaning of the words ?machine? ('robot?, ?think?, ?feel?, etc.) we can see that in principle it would be impossible for machines (or robots) to think, feel, create, etc.; (3) machines (and robots) obviously can (or could) think, feel, etc., since they do certain things which, if we were to do them, would require thought, feeling, etc. It is argued that, once it is seen why approach (2) is mistaken, it becomes desirable to decline ?in principle? approaches to the first set of questions and to favor ?piecemeal investigations? where attention is centered upon what is actually taking place in machine technology, the development of new programming techniques, etc. Some suggestions are made concerning the relevance of current computer simulation studies to traditional mind?body questions. A new set of questions is proposed as a substitute for the first set of questions. It is hoped that attempts to answer these may provide us with new and detailed portraits of the mind?body relationship. (shrink)
In a previous article, Professor abelson contended that the mind-Body identity theory was 'mathematically impossible' inasmuch as the number of possible mental states of a finite thinking organism are infinite, While the number of possible bodily states of such an organism are necessarily finite. I argue that this refutation does not succeed because although it is true that a finite brain can have only a finite number of brain states, Abelson had not demonstrated that there was a limitation on (...) what type of brain state could be generated by a finite brain. Thus, For instance, Although the number of natural numbers that such a brain could think of was necessarily finite, This in itself did not militate against the possibility of the brain producing a brain state corresponding to any natural number, Out of a possible infinite set, That can be thought of. (shrink)
Systemic Constellation Work is a rapidly growing experiential healing process that is being embraced by a variety of helping professionals, both traditional and alternative, worldwide. This book explores the history, principles and methodology of this approach, and offers a detailed comparison with psychodrama - the original mind-body therapy - explaining how each method can enhance the other. Constellation work is based on the notion that people are connected by unseen energetic forces and suggests that the psychological, traumatic and survival (...) experiences of our ancestors are genetically passed forward to the next generation and may live within us. Using insightful case studies from a variety of client groups, this book shows how Systemic Constellation Work can expand the possibilities of psychodrama techniques, and can be successfully integrated with psychodramatic enactment, guided imagery, ritual, concretization and other methods of healing and personal growth. This book will be essential reading for students and practitioners of psychodrama and Constellation work, as well as counselors, mental health professionals, experiential therapists, creative and expressive arts therapists and alternative practitioners looking to widen their knowledge of mind-body therapies. (shrink)
This first extensive study of Spinoza's philosophy of mind concentrates on two problems crucial to the philosopher's thoughts on the matter: the requirements for having a thought about a particular object, and the problem of the mind's relation to the body. Della Rocca contends that Spinoza's positions are systematically connected with each other and with a principle at the heart of his metaphysical system: his denial of causal or explanatory relations between the mental and the physical. In this way, Della (...) Rocca's exploration of these two problems provides a new and illuminating perspective on Spinoza's philosophy as a system. (shrink)
The article is an attempt to uncover the metaphysical assumptions implicit in the otherwise highly scientific contemporary identity theories. 1) the identity statement, Being a philosophical interpretation of dualistic psychophysical correspondence, Requires for its support a justificatory ontological or linguistic premise. 2) the conception of the mental as the hidden, Unobservable, Subjective and private is a metaphysical distortion with historical roots in an empiricist and positivist interpretation of the cartesian dichotomy of thinking and extended thing. 3) acceptance of an artificial (...) dichotomy and reliance on a narrow conceptual framework lead identity theorists to misrepresent the nature of the mental-Physical relation and to see ontological reductionism as the only solution. 4) alternative explanations are possible which bypass the shortcomings mentioned and propose the irreducibility of mind to body without postulating a dualistic ontology; merleau-Ponty's and wittgenstein's theories are good examples of an ontological monism which allows for the reality and meaningfulness of the mental within the scope of the physical. (edited). (shrink)