Response to commentaries on ‘How to Solve the MindBody Problem’ by Andy Clark, Daniel Dennett, Naomi Elian, Ralph Ellis, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Stevan Harnad, Natika Newton, Christian de Quincey, Carol Rovane and Robert van Gulick.
Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind /body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more (...) dualistic or that bring in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism about consciousness, a view that has not previously been explored in any detail. We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions: first, a theory might be physicalist or dualist; second, a theory might endorse any of the three following views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through deterministic laws), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and (...) anomalism (they interact but not through deterministic laws). I suggest that a kind of anomalous dualism, nonreductive anomalous panpsychism, promises to offer the best overall answer to two pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). (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. (shrink)
The mind-body problem is the problem of explaining how our mental states, events and processes—like beliefs, actions and thinking—are related to the physical states, events and processes in our bodies. A question of the form, ‘how is A related to B?’ does not by itself pose a philosophical problem. To pose such a problem, there has to be something about A and B which makes the relation between them seem problematic. Many features of mind and body (...) have been cited as responsible for our sense of the problem. Here I will concentrate on two: the fact that mind and body seem to interact causally, and the distinctive features of consciousness. A long tradition in philosophy has held, with René Descartes, that the mind must be a non-bodily entity: a soul or mental substance. This thesis is called ‘substance dualism’ (or ‘Cartesian dualism’) because it says that there are two kinds of substance in the world, mental and physical or material. One reason for believing this is the belief that the soul, unlike the body, is immortal. Another reason for believing it is that we have free will, and this seems to require that the mind is a non-physical thing, since all physical things are subject to the laws of nature. (shrink)
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)
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)
Isaac Newton’s views on the mind–body relation are of interest not only because of their somewhat unique departure from popular early modern conceptions of mind and its relation to body, but also because of their connections with other aspects of Newton’s thought. In this paper I argue that (1) Newton accepted an interesting sort of mind–body monism, one which defies neat categorization, but which clearly departs from Cartesian substance dualism, and (2) Newton took the (...) power by which we move our bodies by thought alone to be a member of the family of forces that includes gravity and electricity. Time and again, Newton draws an analogy between the ultimate cause and nature of the volitional powers of mind and the ultimate cause and nature of these other forces. (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)
This chapter compares rationalist theories of sense perception to previously held theories of perception (especially of vision) and examines rationalist accounts of sensory qualities and sensory representation, of the role of the sense-based passions in guiding behavior, of the epistemological benefits and dangers of sense perception, and of mind–body relations. Each section begins with Descartes, the first major rationalist of the seventeenth century. The other major rationalists, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibniz, and also lesser known figures such as Pierre (...) Regis, Jacques Rohault, and Antoine Le Grand, were well acquainted with Descartes' work. Indeed, the first three were each deeply influenced by Descartes in their early years before developing their own philosophical systems, and the latter three were all advocates of Descartes' philosophy (perhaps with slight revision). Each of the major rationalists, while sharing some positions in common, developed a distinctive metaphysics of perception and of the mind–body relation. Earlier sections chart these differences and a final section sums up common features and touches on the continuing significance of their views. (shrink)
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.
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)
In the 19th century, "Psychophysical Parallelism" was the most popular solution of the mind-body problem among physiologists, psychologists and philosophers. (This is not to be mixed up with Leibnizian and other cases of "Cartesian" parallelism.) The fate of this non-Cartesian view, as founded by Gustav Theodor Fechner, is reviewed. It is shown that Feigl's "identity theory" eventually goes back to Alois Riehl who promoted a hybrid version of psychophysical parallelism and Kantian mind-body theory which was taken (...) up by Feigl's teacher Moritz Schlick. (shrink)
The article uses Zeno’s metrical paradox of extension, or Zeno’s fundamental paradox, as a thought-model for the mind-body problem. With the help of this model, the distinction contained between mental and physical phenomena can be formulated as sharply as possible. I formulate Zeno’s fundamental paradox and give a sketch of four different solutions to it. Then I construct a mind-body paradox corresponding to the fundamental paradox. Through that, it becomes possible to copy the solutions to the (...) fundamental paradox on the mind-body paradox. Three of them fail. But one of them – the Aristotelian one – gives us an interesting hint. Finally, this hint is pursued somewhat further and through comparison with Zeno’s fundamental paradox, the impossibility of a solution to the mind-body problem is shown again. The main new point of this article is the comparison of the mind-body problem with Zeno’s fundamental paradox. The article is a revised english version of an article published in: Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 23, 1998, p. 61-75. (shrink)
A plausible terminus for the mind-body debate begins by embracing ontological physicalism—the view that there is only one kind of substance in the concrete world, and that it is material substance. Taking mental causation seriously, this terminus also embraces conditional reductionism, the thesis that only physically reducible (i.e., functionalizable) mental properties can be causally efficacious. Intentional/cognitive properties (what David Chalmers calls “psychological” aspects of mind) are physically reducible, but qualia (“phenomenal” aspects of mind) are not. In (...) saving the causal efficacy of intentional/cognitive properties, we save cognition and agency—and even relational facts about the similarities and differences between qualia—but not the intrinsic qualities of qualia themselves, which are physically irreducible and thus causally impotent. As there seems no credible alternative to physicalism as a general worldview, and this is as much physicalism as we can have, physicalism is not the whole truth—but it is the truth near enough. -/- [1. Cartesian Minds Eliminated] [2. The Collapse of Property Dualism] [3. Physicalism at a Crossroads] [4. Can We Reduce Minds?] [5. Living with the Mental Residue] [6. Where We Are with the Mind-Body Problem] [7. Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: Self and Subjectivity]. (shrink)
Nagel has argued that the ‘mind-body’ problem, as traditionally conceived, is insoluble. His challenge to philosophers is to devise a metaphysical scheme that incorporates materialist concepts in describing first person experience and mentalistic concepts in describing third person experience, such that the internal relations between the concepts thereby constructed are necessary. Nagel's own suggestion, a scheme not unlike the ‘underlying process’ schemes of the physical sciences, seems to lead him towards a covert materialism. Progress can be made in (...) meeting the challenge by tackling the problem first by taking the units in each ‘sphere’ to be brains and persons. I show that a metaphysics based on the metaphor of person defined tasks and materially defined tools does satisfy both Nagel's challenge conditions. To devise a scheme for qualia and brain-states I turn back to Locke's presentation of the primary/secondary quality distinction. This depends on the concept of a causal power, grounded in material states of the world. While this scheme is inadequate, a variation, based on Gibson's concept of an affordance, and drawing on Bohr's resolution of the seeming incompatibility between wave and particle ontologies for physics, is promising. The world, whatever it is, affords material states to our perceptual apparatus, and mental states to our proprioceptual apparatus. The mental states/brain states duality is not a duality of types of states, which might stand in causal relations to one another, but is a duality of means of access to two classes of affordances of whatever the world is. There is no mind-body problem in the traditional sense, namely ‘How could a material state cause or be caused by a mental state?’. (shrink)
The Mind/Body Problem is about causation not correlation. And its solution 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)
The mindbody problem is a continuing issue in philosophy. No surveys known to us have been conducted about the actual preferences of, for example, psychology students for particular preconceptions about the mindbody relation. These preconceptions may have different practical implications for decisions concerning the object and method of research, the choice of explanatory device for psychological and other research data and for the approach of professionals in practice. A questionnaire comprising ten different preconceptions about (...) the mindbody relation and other items was returned by 209 German students of various disciplines and by a second sample of 233 first year psychology students. Identity theory, interactionism and complementarity were preferred most. The students clearly believed that the preference for certain preconceptions has important practical implications. There were no differences between the students of different disciplines in the choice of preferred preconceptions about the mindbody relation or in the view that these preconceptions are of practical importance. (shrink)
In his book Elements of Mind, Tim Crane gives us a very clear and interesting introduction to the main problems in the philosophy of mind. The central theme of his book is intentionality, but he also gives an account of the mind-body problem, consciousness, and perception, and then he suggests his own solutions to these problems. In this paper I will concentrate on a part in which he discusses the mind-body problem. My main aim (...) will be to look at different physicalistic positions in relation to the mental causation problem, particularly at emergentism as Crane’s favourite position. (shrink)
Kant’s Critical philosophy solves Descartes’ mind-body problem, replacing the dualism of the “physical influx” theory he defended in his early career. Kant’s solution, like all Critical theories, is “perspectival,” acknowledging deep truth in both opposing extremes. Minds are not separate from bodies, but a manifestation of them, each viewed from a different perspective. Kant’s transcendental conditions of knowledge portray the mind not as creating the physical world, but as necessarily structuring our knowledge of objects with a set (...) of unconscious assumptions; yet our pre-conscious encounter with an assumed spatio-temporal, causal nexus is entirely physical. Hence, today’s “eliminative materialism” and “folk psychology” are both ways of considering this age-old issue, neither being an exclusive explanation. A Kantian solution to this version of the mind-body problem is: eliminative materialism is good science; but only folk psychologists can consistently be eliminative materialists. Indeed, the mind-body problem exemplifies a feature of all cultural situations: dialogue between opposing perspectives is required for understanding as such to arise. (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 (...) class='Hi'>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)
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)
In this paper we analyse some misleading theses concerning the oldcontroversy over the relation between mind and body presented incontemporary medical literature. We undertake an epistemologicalclarification of the axiomatic structure of medical methods. Thisclarification, in turn, requires a precise philosophical explanation ofthe presupposed concepts. This analysis will establish two results: (1)that the mind-body dualism cannot be understood as a kind of biologicalvariation of the subject-object dichotomy in physics, and (2) that thethesis of the incompatibility between somatic (...) and psychosomatic medicineheld by naturalists and others lacks solid epistemologicalfoundation. (shrink)
Cartesian mindbody 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. (shrink)
Eric Voegelin’s writings on the historical development of the concept of race in the early 1930s are important to philosophy today in part because they provide a model upon which scholars can further integrate modern philosophy with the critical philosophy of race. In constructing his history, Voegelin’s methodological orientation depends on the centrality of both Kant’s work and the problem of the mind–body union to the concept of race. This essay asks how one might hold these premises if (...) Kant seems to reject the dominant approach to the mind–body union in the mid-eighteenth century, physical influx, and then go on to publish several essays on race that do not thematize that doctrine in any way. I argue that Kant’s racial union of mind and body cannot be understood as an interaction in space, as his contemporaries had presumed. Rather, the union must be approached as a repetition in time. In this way, Kant’s four racial categories are not merely a part of the mind–body problem, but instead each is a veritable mind–body union. This permits the conclusion that ‘race’, as Kant understood it, is a viable solution to the mind–body problem. (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)
The mind-body problem in philosophy is typically understood as a discourse concerning the relation of mental states to physical states, and the experience of sensation. On this level it seems to transcend issues of race and racism, but Another Mind-Body Problem demonstrates that racial distinctions have been an integral part of the discourse since the Modern period in philosophy. Reading figures such as Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant in their historical contexts, John Harfouch uncovers discussions of (...) class='Hi'>mind and body that engaged closely with philosophical and scientific notions of race in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, in particular in understanding how the mind unites with the body at birth and is then passed on through sexual reproduction. Kant argued that a person’s exterior body and interior psyche are bound together, that non-White people lacked reason, and that this lack of reason was carried on through reproduction such that non-Whites were an example of a union of mind and body without full being. Charting the development of this phenomenon from sixteenth-century medical literature to modern-day race discourse, Harfouch argues for new understandings of Descartes’s mind-body problem, Fanon’s experience of being ‘not-yet human,’ and the place of racism in relation to one of philosophy’s most enduring and canonical problems. -/- “Harfouch has written an important book on the intersection of race and the Western construction of the mind-body problem … This book is a significant resource for theorists dealing with race and decolonization issues, but it is more significant for the critique of philosophy itself and the continued teaching of mind-body issues. Readers will need some knowledge of philosophy, but the volume is in general accessible. It should be required reading for scholars of philosophy. Harfouch establishes a logically strong argument and makes a unique contribution to the field.” — CHOICE. (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)
Philosophical theory about the nature of human beings has far reaching consequences on our understanding of various issues faced by them. Once taken as self-evident, it becomes the foundation on which knowledge gets built. The cause of concern is that this theoretical framework rarely gets questioned despite its inherent limitations and self-defeating consequences, leading to crisis in the concerned field. The field, which is facing crisis today, is that of medicine, and the paradigmatic stance that is responsible for the crisis (...) is Cartesian dualism-a view that mind and body are essentially separate entities. This paper discusses Cartesian dualism in the context of the practice of medicine. Focusing more closely on how disease, health and treatment are defined through this position, the paper builds up its critique by throwing light on its accomplishments, limitations and self-defeating consequences. The paper also seeks to understand why this dualism is still alive despite its disavowal from philosophers, health practitioners and lay people. (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.
Progress in understanding the mind-body problem can be made without attempting to solve it as one unified problem, which it is not. Pepper's "Identity Theory" solution to the problem is now seen as not necessarily clarifying for the question of dualism. Residual asymmetrical dualism is proposed as a theory offering one very good way to think about this set of problems in a variety of modes of inquiry. These include neurophysiological research on the amygdala by LeDoux, research in (...) the phenonenon of hearing and learning while under general anesthetic, Gendlin's methods of focusing upon the body during therapeutic procedures and during creative composition of poetry, and Dewey's position concerning "primary experience" versus a "secondary pseudo-environment" inhabited by the civilized human. Residual asymmetrical dualism is not a value-neutral theory: it is based on a determination that bodily intelligence must ultimately guide mental functioning if survival and well-being are to be secured. It leads to take actions within society to carry out whatever steps are needed to alleviate the mind-body split whenever such a split is harmful to human interaction. (shrink)
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES about the Mind-Body Identity Theory form a case-study for the investigation of the methods practiced by linguistic philosophers. Recent criticisms of these methods question that philosophers can discern lines of demarcation between "categories" of entities, and thereby diagnose "conceptual confusions" in "reductionist" philosophical theories. Such doubts arise once we see that it is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to draw a firm line between the "conceptual" and the "empirical," and thus to differentiate between a statement embodying (...) a conceptual confusion and one that expresses a surprising empirical result. The proponent of the Identity Theory are identical with certain brain-processes) holds that his opponents' arguments to the effect that empirical inquiry could not identify brain-processes and sensations are admirable illustrations of this difficulty. For, he argues, the classifications of linguistic expressions that are the ground of his opponents' criticism are classifications of a language which is as it is because it is the language spoken at a given stage of empirical inquiry. But the sort of empirical results that would show brain processes and sensations to be identical would also bring about changes in our ways of speaking. These changes would make these classifications out of date. To argue against the Identity Theory on the basis of the way we talk now is like arguing against an assertion that supernatural phenomena are identical with certain natural phenomena on the basis of the way in which superstitious people talk. There is simply no such thing as a method of classifying linguistic expressions that has results guaranteed to remain intact despite the results of future empirical inquiry. Thus in this area there is no method which will have the sort of magisterial neutrality of which linguistic philosophers fondly dream. (shrink)
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)
1. My primary aim in this paper is to set the stage for a discussion of some of the central themes in the so-called "identity" approach to the mind-body problem. I have particularly in mind Herbert Feigl's elaborate statement and defense of this approach in Volume II of the Minnesota Studies. A secondary, but more constructive, purpose is to bring out some of the reasons which incline me to think that the theory is either very exciting but (...) false, or true but relatively uninteresting. (shrink)
* Argument from authoritative self-knowledge 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.
It was about half a century ago that the mind–body problem, which like much else in serious metaphysics had been moribund for several decades, was resurrected as a mainstream philosophical problem. The first impetus came from Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind , published in 1948, and Wittgenstein's well-known, if not well-understood, reflections on the nature of mentality and mental language, especially in his Philosophical Investigations which appeared in 1953. The primary concerns of Ryle and Wittgenstein, however, (...) focused on the logic of mental discourse rather than the metaphysical issue of how our mentality is related to our bodily nature. In fact, Ryle and Wittgenstein would have regarded, each for different reasons, the metaphysical problem of the mind-body relation as arising out of deplorable linguistic confusions and not amenable to intelligible discussion. There was C. D. Broad's earlier and much neglected classic, The Mind and Its Place in Nature , which appeared in 1925, but this work, although robustly metaphysical, failed to connect with, and shape, the mind–body debate in the second half of this century. (shrink)
In this thesis, I both analyze the phenomenology of vision from a geometrical point of view, and also develop certain connections between that geometrical analysis and the mindbody problem. In order to motivate the need for such an analysis, I first show, by means of a refutation of direct realism, that visual space is never identical with any of the physical objects being indirectly "seen" by constituting color arrangements in it. It thus follows that the geometry of (...) visual space may be quite different from the Euclidean geometry of physical space, and I proceed to analyze that geometry. ;I argue that topologically, visual space is two dimensional, inasmuch as regions of it are capable of being bounded by a line, such as the borders around the various objects constituted in it. An apparent paradox arises here though, inasmuch as we posess phenomenal depth perception, which is particularly striking during binocular vision, and thus the question arises as to how the binocular depth cue of retinal disparity is registered phenomenally in a two dimensional space. I resolve this apparent paradox by arguing that the internal metric struture of this space can be apprehended phenomenally, and can serve as such a phenomenal depth cue. It is shown that holistically, this metric structure is elliptical, since for example marginal distortions in wide-angle photography are not present in visual space, and it is also noted that there is a tendency towards size constancy in visual perception. It is shown from these geometrical considerations that visual space posseses a variable curvature, with that curvature being determined by the physical depths of objects constituted in the space. ;Finally, I investigate what bearing the preceding geometrical conclusions have on the question of how events in visual space may be causally determined by neural events in the brain. The classical isomorphic theory of Gestalt psychology is then reinterpreted in light of my analysis of the geometry of visual space. (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.
I consider a seemingly attractive strategy for grappling with the mind-body problem. It is often thought that materialists are committed to spatially locating mental events, whereas dualists are barred from so doing. The thought naturally arises, then, that reasons for or against the spatiality of the mental may be wielded to adjudicate between the different positions in the mind-body dispute. Showing that mental events are spatially located, it may be thought, is ipso facto showing the truth (...) of materialism. Conversely, it seems, if we can show that mental events are not spatially located, we will have refuted materialism. The strategy looks promising because it reduces a very abstruse problem to a much more tractable one. Unfortunately, I will argue, it can’t be implemented. (shrink)
SummaryMind‐body identity theories are standardly supposed to be logically contingent. Kripke defends a quasi‐Cartesian property dualism by observing that bodies and minds or mental and neurophysiological events or event‐types can always be assigned distinct rigid designators. The concept of rigid designation implies that possibly nonidentical rigidly designated bodies and minds are necessarily and therefore actually nonidentical. But Kripke's argument does not refute materialist reductions that affirm the actual identity of minds and bodies while admitting only the possible nonidentity of (...) ncwigidly designated mental and material entities. This limits the adequate expression of contingent materialist theories, but does not defeat materialism per se. The mind‐body problem like other genuine ontological issues resists stipulative semantic‐philosophical resolution. (shrink)
In Why the Mind-Body Problem CANNOT Be Solved, Irving Krakow shows that a satisfactory scientific explanation of conscious experience isn't possible for methodological and semantic reasons. The reason is that sentences about conscious experience cannot be deduced from sentences about the brain's neurology without using brain-mind correlations.
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)