The mind-body problem and explanatory dualism

Philosophy 75 (291):49-71 (2000)
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An important part of the mind-brain problem arises because sentience and consciousness seem inherently resistant to scientific explanation and understanding. The solution to this dilemma is to recognize, first, that scientific explanation can only render comprehensible a selected aspect of what there is, and second, that there is a mode of explanation and understanding, the personalistic, quite different from, but just as viable as, scientific explanation. In order to understand the mental aspect of brain processes - that aspect we know about as a result of having relevant neurological processes occur in our own brain - we need to avail ourselves of personalistic explanation, irreducible to scientific explanation. The problem of explaining and understanding why experiential or mental aspects of brain processes or things should be correlated with certain physical processes, things or states of affairs is a non-problem because there is no kind of explanation possible in terms of which an explanation could be couched. A physical theory, amplified to include the experiential, might be predictive but would, necessarily, cease to be explanatory; and an amplified personalistic explanation could not succeed either. There is, in short, an explanation as to why there cannot be an explanation of correlations between physical and mental aspects of processes going on inside our heads

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Nicholas Maxwell
University College London

References found in this work

Understanding sensations.Nicholas Maxwell - 1968 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):127-146.

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