The Five Marks of the Mental

Abstract

The mental realm seems different to the physical realm; the mental is thought to be dependent on, yet distinct from the physical. But how, exactly, are the two realms supposed to be different, and what, exactly, creates the seemingly insurmountable juxtaposition between the mental and the physical? This review identifies and discusses five marks of the mental, features that set characteristically mental phenomena apart from the characteristically physical phenomena. These five marks (intentionality, consciousness, free will, teleology, and normativity) are not presented as a set of features that define mentality. Rather, each of them is something we seem to associate with phenomena we consider mental, and each of them seems to be in tension with the physical view of reality in its own particular way. It is thus suggested how there is no single mind-body problem, but a set of distinct but interconnected problems. Each of these separate problems is analyzed, and their differences, similarities and connections are identified. This provides a useful basis for future theoretical work on psychology and philosophy of mind, that until now has too often suffered from unclarities, inadequacies, and conflations.

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