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What is the Mind-Body problem?

What is the mind? Since the beginning of civilization, we have grappled with the idea of consciousness. Could the study of our brain and nervous system account for conscious thought? If not, what are the relationships between the non-physical processes and the physical ones?

Mind-Body Problem: Dualism

Human beings are made up of two distinct parts; the physical body and the non-physical mind.

The existence of Free Will proves Mind-Body Dualism

The fact we have freewill means we must not be bound by the laws of physics.

First Person Authority

Mental states are intrisically knowable, but physical states require inference and experience.

The Knowledge Argument (Qualia)

Not all experiences can be reduced to physical processes.

Property Dualism

Mental phenomena need physical phenomena to exist, but both are different entities.

Mind-Body Problem: Idealism

Idealists believe that only the mind exists and everything that we perceive in the physical world is merely a composition.

Hemiplegic stroke victims

In a case study, hemiplegic stroke victims perceived themselves as fully able-bodied. Even though they were paralyzed, they claimed they could move both sides of their body, thus presenting the possibility that one’s experience of the world only exists in the mind.

Mind-Body Problem: Materialism

Humans are made out of purely physical matter.

Since evolution is a physical process, mental states must be as well

Darwin's theory of evolution explores the physical process of evolution that all living organisms undergo. Because the process of evolution is an entirely physical process, the creation of mental states must therefore also be a purely physical process.

Neurological energy that prompts immediate responses between the mind and body

Neurological science has made it possible to view neurological energy assessing through the brain which then controls the body. Because the energy can be seen, the idea that the connection between mind and body is purely physical is supported by scientific evidence.

Occam’s Razor: The simplest position is the most likely position

According to Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation is most likely to be true. There is no reason for there to be two worlds, simply because it is possible for there to just be one: the material realm.

Theory-Theory: Belief is a collection of physical experiences

Beliefs are constructed from experiences. As early as 18 months of age, we are able to process these circumstances and behave in accordance with our surroundings.

Mind-Body problem: functionalism

Our mental states can be reduced to a functional response to a stimulus.

Putnam’s Functionalism: Likening the human mind and body to a computer

Likening the human mind and body to the functionality of a computer, Hilary Putnam’s theory of Functionalism claims our mental states are direct responses to external stimuli. The mind is the brain’s interpreter.

The weakness of materialism

The reduction of mental states to physical occurrences is inconclusive. The relationship between mental activities and physical activity can on the contrary be the result of several stimuli.


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This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jan 2020 at 11:34 UTC