The article uses Zeno’s metrical paradox of extension, or Zeno’s fundamental paradox, as a thought-model for the mind-bodyproblem. 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-bodyproblem is shown again. The main new point of this article is the comparison of the mind-bodyproblem with Zeno’s fundamental paradox. The article is a revised version of an article published in: Méthexis, Revista Internacional de Filosofia Antigua/International Journal for Ancient Philosophy, 13, 2000, 139-151. (shrink)
This work speaks about very special solution of the mind–bodyproblem. This solution based on the so-called Principle of Co-existence stands out as one of the most interesting attempts at solving the mind–bodyproblem. 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–bodyproblem, 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–bodyproblem. 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)
Response to commentaries on ‘How to Solve the MindBodyProblem’ 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.
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. (shrink)
In this paper I begin to develop an account of the acquaintance that each of us has with our own conscious states and processes. The account is a speculative proposal about human mental architecture and specifically about the nature of the concepts via which we think in first personish ways about our qualia. In a certain sense my account is neutral between physicalist and dualist accounts of consciousness. As will be clear, a dualist could adopt the account I will offer (...) while maintaining that qualia themselves are non-physical properties. In this case the non-physical nature of qualia may play no role in accounting for the features of acquaintance. But although the account could be used by a dualist, its existence provides support for physicalism. (shrink)
This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...) he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid. (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-bodyproblem, 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)
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 /bodyproblem 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)
The Clarke-Collins correspondence was widely read and frequently printed during the 18th century. Its central topic is the question whether matter can think. Samuel Clarke defends the immateriality of the human soul against Anthony Collins’ materialism. Clarke argues that consciousness must belong to an indivisible entity, and matter is divisible. Collins contends that consciousness could belong to a composite subject by emerging from material qualities that belong to its parts. While many early modern thinkers assumed that this is not possible, (...) this correspondence offers an unusually detailed discussion of this issue. Clarke rejects emergentism because real qualities of a composite must be homogeneous with the qualities of the parts. This rejection is based on considerations about the nature of causation. In addition, the disagreement derives in part from a disagreement between Clarke and Collins about the limits of our knowledge. (shrink)
Most scholars who presently deal with the Mind-Bodyproblem 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)
In the 19th century, "Psychophysical Parallelism" was the most popular solution of the mind-bodyproblem 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)
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-BodyProblem] [7. Beyond the Mind-BodyProblem: 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-bodyproblem in the traditional sense, namely ‘How could a material state cause or be caused by a mental state?’. (shrink)
The Mind/BodyProblem 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)
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-bodyproblem, 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-bodyproblem. 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)
The mindbodyproblem 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)
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)
At the very heart of the mind-bodyproblem 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)
* 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.
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-bodyproblem 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)
It was about half a century ago that the mind–bodyproblem, 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 mindbodyproblem. 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)
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‐bodyproblem like other genuine ontological issues resists stipulative semantic‐philosophical resolution. (shrink)
I consider a seemingly attractive strategy for grappling with the mind-bodyproblem. 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)
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)
In Why the Mind-BodyProblem 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.
Sergio Moravia's The Enigma of the Mind 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/bodyproblem 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-bodyproblem. 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)
This paper contrasts two approaches to the mind-bodyproblem 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)
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)
Della Rocca concentrates on two problems crucial to Spinoza 's philosophy of mind: the requirements for having a thought about a particular object, and the problem of the mind's relation to the body. He contends that for Spinoza these two problems are linked and thus part of a systematic philosophy of 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)
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)
Following the lead of von Neumann and Wigner, Goswami has developed a paradox-free interpretation of quantum mechanics based on the idealistic notion that consciousness collapes the quantum wave function. This solution of quantum measurement theory sheds a considerable amount of light on the nature of consciousness. Quantum theory is applied to the mind-brain problem and a solution is proposed for the paradox of the causal potency of the conscious mind and of self-reference. Cognitive and neurophysiological data in (...) support of the present theory are also reviewed. (shrink)
An old philosophical problem, the mind-bodyproblem, has not been yet solved by philosophers or scientists. Even if in cognitive neuroscience has been a stunning development in the last 20 years, the mind-bodyproblem remained unsolved. Even if the majority of researchers in this domain accept the identity theory from an ontological viewpoint, many of them reject this position from an epistemological viewpoint. In this context, I consider that it is quite possible the (...) framework of this problem to be wrong and this is the main reason the problem -/- could not be solved. I offer an alternative, the epistemologically different world’s perspective, which replaces -/- the world or the universe. In this new context, the mind-bodyproblem becomes a pseudo-problem. (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.
One of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, Sir Karl Popper here examines the problems connected with human freedom, creativity, rationality and the relationship between human beings and their actions. In this illuminating series of papers, Popper suggests a theory of mind-body interaction that relates to evolutionary emergence, human language and what he calls "the three worlds." Rene; Descartes first posited the existence of two worlds--the world of physical bodies and the world of mental states. Popper (...) argues for the existence of "world 3" which comprises the products of our human minds. He examines the interaction between mental states--hopes, needs, plans, ideologies or hypotheses--and the physical states of our brain. Popper forcefully argues against the materialism forwarded by many philosophers which denies the existence of mental states. Instead, he demonstrates that the problem of the interaction between mental and physical states remains unresolved. Knowledge and the Body-MindProblem is based on Popper's never-before published lectures at Emory University in 1969. Popper has extensively revised the lectures but has retained their accessible format. He has also incorporated some of the discussions which followed the lectures, providing an engaging exchange between the philosopher and his audience. (shrink)