Descartes suggests the viewpoint that the human body and the human mind are two completely different things with different functions. The viewpoint is called Dualism, and holds that both the physical world and the immaterial world exist. Dualism is based on two substances, which are mind and matter. Descartes explained that these two does not necessarily need one another to exist. In Descartes’ Dualism, the body is considered to be a material substance, and the mind is considered to be an immaterial one.
He suggests that although these two things combine to make a human being, but these two parts exist in two separate worlds. The body exists in the physical world, where all the objects that we can see and touch exist. While the mind exists in a different world, an immaterial one, where we are not able to see or feel. Descartes establishes the Conceivablilty argument to support his viewpoint. There are three main premises to explain this argument. The premises are the following (1)”I can conceive of myself existing and no bodies existing. And (2)”If something is conceivable, then it is possible. ” So (3)”It is possible that I exist and no bodies exist. ” The argument concludes that it is possible that just the mind exists without the physical body, therefore the mind and the body (brain) are not the same. To make Dualism more plausible, he uses the indivisible argument to help make it more understandable. Firstly, he puts that the body is a divisible thing. What he means is that the body is public, material, and tangible. It could be cut and divided into different parts.
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The body exists in the physical world which could be seen and touched. In contrast, the mind is an indivisible thing because the mind is immaterial and intangible. He suggests that we will never be able to touch or see a thought or a piece of memory. As a result, Descartes’ theory concludes that the mind and the body are two individual parts. To believe in Descartes’ Dualism, one must be able to conceive in supernatural. In other words, one must believe that the world is not only restricted to materialism, and believe in the possibility of the existence f a world we have not yet seen. If we can do this, then the reason and scientific evidences for Descartes’ Dualism seems very solid. One of the arguments is that the brain and the mind, or the physical and the mental spheres are two different things. Mental experiences are non-tangible events that only the person can experience or feel. For example, opinions are a person’s perspective of view, and it cannot be deduced to a physical brain stage. There is no place in the brain where a source of physical energy can cause an opinion or a decision.
We can doubt our thoughts to be true or false, but we cannot doubt that our brain states to be true or false. On the other hand, if one is unable to even imagine a world of supernatural, then the Dualism argument will probably seem a weak one. One argument against Dualism is the question how does the mind, which is in the immaterial world, connect to the body in the physical world. The question makes the possibility that an immaterial world exist look very frail. One other argument is the fact that when the brain in physically damaged, the mind tends to lose its function as well.
The example clearly shows a relationship between the body and the mind, but how does this relationship occur? A supernatural non-believer will probably see this make sense, because they believe everything happens in the physical world. In contrast, a dualist can only say that there may be a power beyond our knowledge that connects the mind and the body. In conclusion, the arguments for brain-body dualism are very strong. It really comes down to whether a person believes in supernatural power’s existence. Identity Theory The Identity Theory is mainly founded by three materialists: Place, Smart, and Feigl.
They are philosophers who believe that the mental states and brain processes of a mind are identical to the mental states and brain processes of a brain. To put it in a simpler form, the mind is the brain. Although the word “brain” seems a lot more tangible than “mind”, the two things cannot exist without each other. According to the mind-brain Identity Theory, for every mental state, there is a brain-state that is identical. For instance, if you are experiencing pain because you were hit by a car, there must be something going on in your brain that tells you that you are in pain and you are aware of it.
In one of Identity Theory’s arguments, the mind is what causes our behaviors and actions. For example, in the case of you picking up an apple, the action is taken place because your mind gives a command to the body and so the body accepts the direction and does it. The same explanation can be applied to the brain. For whatever behavior or action that we have or take, it is the brain that tells us to do it. If the mind causes behavior, but the brain causes behavior too, and then the mind must be something identical to the brain.
The essential theme for mind-brain identity theory is the correlation between the mind and the brain. If a person’ brain is damaged physically from an outside source, we can say that his/her mind is also damaged. Mental events appear to be associated with specific parts of the brain. Mental activities appear to be localized in identifiable areas of the human brain. This is shown by the fact that inhibiting brain activity inhibits mental activity as well. Those who suffer localized brain damage also suffer localized damage to the mind.
The most plausible explanation to this question is that the mind is the brain. The Identity Theory is very solid as the explanations are actually compatible with the scientific evidence that we have today. The concept that brain activities is identical to mind activities seem very plausible because we know that out of the so many human parts, the brain is the only part that does the thinking. In addition, the mind also has the same function. Therefore, in today’s world, where many people are educated, it is so logical to think that the mind is within the brain.
Another strong point of Identity Theory is the argument against Descartes’ Dualism that in the case when the brain is physically damaged, and so will the mind. We have an abundance of information and evidences to prove that a specific physically damage to the brain will cause a specific mental impair. It is hard to deny scientific evidence with the explanation of supernatural power. Although Identity Theory seems very strong, there are problems that have been raised to encounter it. One of the founders of Identical Theory, Place, considers one essential objection to his own view, which is the Properties argument problem.
He assumes that somebody looks at a red surface then transfer to a white surface, which produces a green after-image. Here comes the problem, (1) The after-image is green. And (2) The brain process is not green, so the after-image cannot be identical with the brain process. In conclusion, although Identity Theory provides a well-developed argument, there are still unsolved problems to question its plausibility. Causal Theory Armstrong’s Causal Theory is considered to be another topic-neutral view. It centers on intentional states and behaviors caused by these states.
This particular viewpoint of mental states allows identity theory to be a plausible state. The causal analysis concentrates on causes and effects. When an action is taken place, there is always a cause to why it happened. The mind is like a causal role that causes behaviors, and causal role is physical process in the brain, so the mind is the brain. Armstrong went along with mental states as concepts because of this result, but believes the theory stands on its own. Causal Theory holds mental states in the mind cause certain behaviors, and there are two steps to approach the cause from the thinking to action.
The first step is that the intention is caused by certain stimulator. Then, the second step is to identify the certain stimulator, and Armstrong thinks it is brain process. Armstrong defines mental states as states that are “apt to be the cause of certain effects or apt to be the effect of certain causes. ” There is a chain of causes that leads to the final behavior. For example, (1) Hungry mental state. (2) Desire for a Big Mac. (3) Believing that McDonalds’ serves Big Macs. (4) Drives to the nearest McDonalds’ to get a Big Mac. (5) Eat the Big Mac and terminate the mental state to desire a Big Mac.
The hungry mental state is the stimulator in this cause, which leads to the causal role of driving to the McDonald, and finally ends up with the behavior of eating the Big Mac. The purpose of the whole series of mental states and actions is to satisfy the person’s hungriness, so a mental state could be a physical state or event. Armstrong likes the Causal Theory because it can address the mind-body problem without using references to a supernatural source, or something that science still cannot figure out today. If the Causal Theory is true, then immaterialism claim from Descartes’ Dualism is unsupported.
Everything, behaviors and cause of behaviors, just happens within the body, and nothing mysterious. The possible weakness of Causal Theory is that it relies on science too much. In his pain example, there are sorts of things that pain make us do, such as screaming, and crying out. It is, however, not clear whether these things are really part of our concept of pain. We are not sure if the physical pain causes us to scream or if it is the bodily sensation. My Views First of all, Descartes’ Dualism and its whole idea about minds existing in another world just sound too outrageous to me.
I do not believe there is another space solely for our mental states. Everything in this world, including our minds, stays within this world. I cannot conceive how my mind in another world can make a connection with my body in the physical world. I also do not agree with Descartes’ Indivisibility argument. I believe that the mind is within the human brain. The mind and the body are one thing, and not separated. They are mutually attached and non-divisible. For example, if the mind and the body are two different things.
Then it should be possible to separate them and transfer the mind of one person to another person’s physical body. However, I think this assumption seems absurd, because there is no possible way to take the mind out of the brain. The mind is within the brain, in fact, the mind is the brain, and the brain is a part of the body. Therefore, you cannot say that the mind and the body are two different things. The Identity Theory and the Causal Theory seem much more plausible to me than Dualism. Both theories hold that the mind is identical to the brain, which I can conceive.
Also, both theories, in my opinion, involve more with logic rather than imagination. In Identity Theory, mind is described to be within or is the brain. The damaged brain argument is the most powerful for the theory. It allows me to sort of visualize how a brain damaged person can suffer partial nonfunctioning of the mind like memory loss and retardation. We can say that our mental states are produced by our minds, and we can also say that we use our brains to think. In addition, we can all agree on that if the brain is damaged entirely, then we will not be able to have any mental states at all, therefore the mind is dead.
Therefore, I think Identity Theory is correct. Causal Theory suggests that every action has a cause, and every cause has a mental state behind it. The steps of causal analysis are also logical. One mental state follows by another, and finally leads to the behavior. No supernatural or mysterious explanation is needed to support the point of view. By learning all three perspectives of views about the mind-body problem, I can conclude that the mind is identical to the brain, and both Identity Theory and Causal Theory seem much more plausible than Descartes’ Dualism.