Plato mind and body relationship problems

Mind–body problem - Wikipedia

plato mind and body relationship problems

The Argument From Indivisibility; Issues Raised by the Indivisibility Argument; The In this sort of dualism, mind and body are conceptually distinct, though the Plato's Phaedo contains several arguments in support of his contention that the soul .. into the nature of the relationship between mental and physical properties. The mind–body problem is a philosophical problem concerning the relationship between .. The body is for Plato empty in that it can not access the abstract reality of the world; it can only experience shadows. This is determined by Plato's . This argument gives rise to the famous problem of mind-body causal interaction This article examines these issues as well as Descartes' own response to this .. that mind and body do not bear a mechanistic causal relation to each other. .. of the union of mind and body on the supposition that he maintained a Platonic.

That is to say: This otherness, as Plato repeatedly remarks, is radical in all respects. A more serious objection concerns the structure of the soul. Does not the view that the soul is a mixture of the sensible and the intelligible amount to transferring the ontological difficulty of the substantial dualism to the psychological sphere of the composition of the soul?

In other words, this view apparently transfers the problem of the mind-body interaction within the soul, which is seen as reproducing in itself and its essence a delicate relationship be- tween the sensible and the intelligible.

Although this objection is certainly serious, Plato seems to take no account of it. We must turn here to the Timaeus pages where the functions pertaining to the world soul are illustrated 36ec. The demiurge equips it with a moving function from which a cognitive function also derives: This cognitive mecha- nism of the world-soul probably extends to the individual, embodied souls;14 and it also helps to explain how the world-soul can act on the body that it animates and why in the world-body this causal action acquires the character of a geometrical-mathematical disposition.

This is the question we have to start with: They concern their respective degrees of purity and the nature of their respective bodies: I will not go into these details here. An Interpretation of Tim. While this is surely the case for individual souls, it is far from clear how sensible knowledge can pertain to the world-soul, for its body, i.

Gabriela Roxana Carone, Mind and body in late Plato - PhilPapers

The transmission of this movement too is naturally by contact, since the circle of the same and the circle of the different were laid out by the demiurge in two strips overlapping at one point, and then folded in the form of a X, bringing their extremities together. They therefore intersect at two points, and it is obviously through these two points of intersection that the trans- mission of movement takes place see fig.

Later, the circle of the different, whose circular movement embraces and accompanies that of the six concentric circles that it includes beneath itself, transmits to them in turn this movement, which then propagates itself, gradu- ally declining through the inferior and inner circles, until it reaches the centre of the soul see fig. Certainly movement, in the ways we have just illustrated, but not only that. See for example Phaed. Plato frequently uses verbs refer- ring to an actual contact between the soul and its objects in the context of intelligible knowledge: X c-d and c.

It is not difficult to imagine what follows in this process of transmission through the concentric circles marked inside the circle of the different, and then, by virtue of the con- tact between the world-soul and the world-body, in the world-body. It is an extension or radiation of a trajectory and a movement, but also of the modification of this trajectory which has the form of a numerical variation or quantitative oscillation that, impressed on a sensible mate- rial 31bci.

As far as I can see, nothing prevents the same mathematical model from explaining, at the level of the individual embodied soul, how each soul directs its body, functioning in turn as a transmission belt A of the intelligible order, through its circle of the same which entails the proper functioning of the body, but also B of sensible disorder, through its circle of the different which entails the malfunctioning of the body.

Naturally, as it is in this case an individual embodied soul, the strongest and most immediate cognitive signal reaches it now through and from the body so that, being in touch with external sensible real- ity, the body is affected through one of the five senses, which un- dergoes a physical deformation, whose effects are transmitted to the soul, finally touching its circle of the different. But when the individual soul is turned to knowledge of the intelligible 41c-d, 44b, 47a-c etc.

This complex mechanism offers a detailed account of the modes of interac- tion between the soul and the body of the whole universe as well as of individual souls. Although they are two different substances that pertain to distinct ontological realms, the soul and the body can communicate with each other because they share a common property, i.

Given the mechanism which we have outlined above, this interaction involves and concerns the whole body, not one of its particular organs, since the body is pen- etrated by the soul in its entirety, and each of its regions is reached by the propagation of its movements. The minimum requirement of any possible solution of the mind-body problem, in its standard version which I took as my starting-point, is the ability to explain not only what the nature and the status of the mental and the physical as well as the modes of their interaction are, but also and above all to account for the nature and the status of their union, i.

As I said, the Phaedo appears to consider the union of soul and body as a provisional datum which cannot be further understood or ex- plained.

On the other hand, the Timaeus once again goes well beyond this conclusion, raising the problem of the origin of the soul-body relationship and taking as a starting-point the constitution of the indi- vidual soul. In 41a-d the demiurge speaks to his helpers, the minor gods, and orders them to complete the production of the 19 I tried to clarify this point in the following articles: Up to now no mention has been made of a distinc- tion between different species or functions of the soul: The demiurge goes on to sow in the stars and planets the immortal souls he has produced, and then has them take a panoramic tour of the universe, while he explains them the laws of destiny.

All these reactions belong to the sphere of corporeal sen- sation and perception and can be divided into two general categories, i. No mention is made, on the other hand, of a union, or a synthesis, or whatever one might want to call it, between an immortal principle and a mortal species of the soul. As is immediately added 43d-ethese flow- ing and ebbing tides do not shatter the perfect mathematical structure of the soul, since it has been produced by the demiurge, and therefore cannot be broken it follows that what is at issue here is only the im- mortal principle of the soul produced by the demiurge ; however they do manage to alter and bend it in every direction.

If all this fails to happen, the individual risks corrupting the immortal soul and forcing it to wander devoid of mind after the death of the body. In this passage the mortal species of the soul are for the first time distinguished and spoken of in the plural, i. Finally, in 73b-d, the constitution of the bones and flesh is described: According to the myth, the human soul appears to be produced by the demiurge as an image of the world-soul and out of the same mate- rial, which is gradually divided into portions.

plato mind and body relationship problems

Each of these portions is then sowed in a different star and planet. These celestial souls are then implanted in mortal bodies, which they guide. The three species of soul are here taken for granted 73band are said to correspond to and inhere in different species of marrow which are characterized by different degrees of purity. No reference is made here to parts of the soul; rather, we hear of its locations the only parts in question are those of the marrow, which receive the different species of the soul.

Nor are the species ever said to be produced, since their existence is taken for granted. What needs to be explained, is how they can spread in the body and interact with it through the marrow, that ancient ancestor of the pineal gland. The Timaeus of Plato translated with a running commentary, Londonparticularly p. What happens after this final liberation is unclear and still a much debated issue.

Some scholars think that the soul just dis- solves. Upon the death of the body i. This is no surprise at all, since Plato makes it quite clear more than once 69c-e, 70e.

The genesis, the nature and the mode of functioning of this synthesis are also described. The admirable psycho-physiological balance resulting from all this, i. Deuse, Untersuchungen zur mittelplatonischen und neuplatonischen Seelen- lehre, Mainz, Wiesbadenexamines the problem in some detail and offers a reconstruction of the debate and the different views that were put forward in the Middleplatonic and Neoplatonic tradition.

For even if every immortal principle were perfectly identical to the others and were implanted in portions of matter identical to one another, the spe- cific psycho-physiological reaction which supervenes would certainly turn out to be in each case different.

It would assume the form of the lower functions of the soul that provide the medium between the im- mortal principle and the mortal body, i.

This is so because the immortal principle, when implanted in the mortal body, cannot remain pure and fail to mix with the body, but must necessarily interact with the body that completes it. On this interpretation of the psycho-physiology of the Timaeus, the human soul with the whole of its functions is always immersed in the body, and its composition, structure, and operational capacity are inextricably linked to the body and to its relationship with it, and therefore from the beginning to the end of this relationship, i.

Themes from the Work of R. Sorabji, Oxfordp. However, there is no denying that from a historical- philosophical point of view the Timaeus does provide a series of con- sistent albeit more or less satisfactory answers for a solution of this dilemma.

I therefore conclude by taking up again a remark by Kim. We may surely say that it was God who united the mind and the body and dodge the question as to why he did it and in virtue of what powers. However, we cannot avoid asking how he did it, i. This, in turn, requires that the cause of our actions not be fixed by natural laws.

Since, according to the dualist, the mind is non-physical, there is no need to suppose it bound by the physical laws that govern the body. So, a strong sense of free will is compatible with dualism but incompatible with materialism. Since freedom in just this sense is required for moral appraisal, the dualist can also argue that materialism, but not dualism, is incompatible with ethics.

This, the dualist may claim, creates a strong presumption in favor of their metaphysics. This argument is sometimes countered by arguing that free will is actually compatible with materialism or that even if the dualistic account of the will is correct, it is irrelevant because no volition on the part of a non-physical substance could alter the course of nature anyway. As Bernard Williams puts it, "Descartes' distinction between two realms, designed to insulate responsible human action from mechanical causation, insulated the world of mechanical causation, that is to say, the whole of the external world, from responsible human action.

Man would be free only if there was nothing he could do. Moreover, behaviorist opponents argue that if dualism is true, moral appraisal is meaningless since it is impossible to determine another person's volitions if they are intrinsically private and otherworldly.

plato mind and body relationship problems

Property Dualism Property dualists claim that mental phenomena are non-physical properties of physical phenomena, but not properties of non-physical substances. Property dualists are not committed to the existence of non-physical substances, but are committed to the irreducibility of mental phenomena to physical phenomena.

An argument for property dualism, derived from Thomas Nagel and Saul Kripke, is as follows: We can assert that warmth is identical to mean kinetic molecular energy, despite appearances, by claiming that warmth is how molecular energy is perceived or manifested in consciousness.

Minds detect molecular energy by experiencing warmth; warmth "fixes the reference" of heat. Similarly, color is identical to electromagnetic reflectance efficiencies, inasmuch as color is how electromagnetic wavelengths are processed by human consciousness. In these cases, the appearance can be distinguished from the reality. Heat is molecular motion, though it appears to us as warmth. Other beings, for example, Martians, might well apprehend molecular motion in another fashion.

They would grasp the same objective reality, but by correlating it with different experiences. We move toward a more objective understanding of heat when we understand it as molecular energy rather than as warmth. Consciousness itself, however, cannot be reduced to brain activity along analogous lines because we should then need to say that consciousness is how brain activity is perceived in consciousness, leaving consciousness unreduced.

Put differently, when it comes to consciousness, the appearance is the reality. Therefore, no reduction is possible.

plato mind and body relationship problems

The idea of moving from appearance to reality seems to make no sense here. What is the analogue in this case to pursuing a more objective understanding of the same phenomena by abandoning the initial subjective viewpoint toward them in favor of another that is more objective but concerns the same thing? Certainly it appears unlikely that we will get closer to the real nature of human experience by leaving behind the particularity of our human point of view and striving for a description in terms accessible to beings that could not imagine what it was like to be us.

Nagel ; reprinted in Block et. Consciousness is thus sui generis of its own kindand successful reductions elsewhere should give us little confidence when it comes to experience. Some property dualists, such as Jaegwon Kim, liken "having a mind" to "a property, capacity, or characteristic that humans and some higher animals possess in contrast with things like pencils and rocks.

Mentality is a broad and complex property. Some things—in particular, persons and certain biological organisms—can also instantiate mental properties, like being in pain and liking the taste of avocado.

Once we admit the existence of mental properties, we can inquire into the nature of the relationship between mental and physical properties. According to the supervenience thesis, there can be no mental differences without corresponding physical differences. If, for example, I feel a headache, there must be some change not only in my mental state, but also in my body presumably, in my brain.

If Mary is in pain, but Erin is not, then, according to the supervenience thesis, there must be a physical difference between Mary and Erin. For example, Mary's c-fibers are firing and Erin's are not. If this is true, it is possible to argue for a type of property dualism by arguing that some mental states or properties, especially the phenomenal aspects of consciousness, do not "supervene on" physical states or properties in regular, lawlike ways.

Because it seems entirely conceivable that there could exist a twin Earth where all of the physical properties that characterize the actual world are instantiated and are interrelated as they are here, but where the inhabitants are "zombies" without experience, or where the inhabitants have inverted qualia relative to their true-Earth counterparts. If it is possible to have mental differences without physical differences, then mental properties cannot be identical to or reducible to physical properties.

They would exist as facts about the world over and above the purely physical facts. Put differently, it always makes sense to wonder "why we exist and not zombies. Kim, and following. Some have attempted to rebut this "conceivability argument" by noting that the fact that we can ostensibly imagine such a zombie world does not mean that it is possible. Without the actual existence of such a world, the argument that mental properties do not supervene on physical properties fails.

A second rebuttal avers that absent qualia thought experiments and inverted spectra though experiments only support property dualism if we can imagine these possibilities obtaining. Perhaps we think we can conceive a zombie world, when we really can't. We may think we can conceive of such a world but attempts to do so do not actually achieve such a conception. To illustrate, suppose that Goldbach's Conjecture is true.

If it is, its truth is necessary. If, then, someone thought that they imagined a proof that the thesis is false, they would be conceiving the falsity of what is in reality a necessary truth. What we should rather say in such a case is that the person was mistaken, and that what they imagined false was not Goldbach's Conjecture after all, or that the "proof" that was imagined was in fact no proof, or that what they were really imagining was something like an excited mathematician shouting, "Eureka!

So it's false then! We may be mistaken about what it is that we are actually "picturing" to ourselves. Against this objection, however, one could argue that there are independent grounds for thinking that the truth-value of Goldbach's theorem is necessary and no independent reasons for thinking that Zombie worlds are impossible; therefore, the dualist deserves the benefit of the doubt.

But perhaps the physicalist can come up with independent reasons for supposing that the dualist has failed to imagine what she claims. The physicalist can point, for example, to successful reductions in other areas of science. On the basis of these cases she can argue the implausibility of supposing that, uniquely, mental phenomena resist reduction to the causal properties of matter.

That is, an inductive argument for reduction outweighs a conceivability argument against reduction. And in that case, the dualist must do more than merely insist that she has correctly imagined inverted spectra in isomorphic individuals.

For useful discussions of some of these issues, see Tye and Horgan Objections to Dualism Motivated by Scientific Considerations The Ockham's Razor argument creates a strong methodological presumption against dualism, suggesting that the mind-body split multiplies entities unnecessarily in much the way that a demon theory of disease complicates the metaphysics of medicine compared to a germ theory.

It is often alleged, more broadly, that dualism is unscientific and renders impossible any genuine science of mind or truly empirical psychology.

Arguments from Human Development Those eager to defend the relevance of science to the study of mind, such as Paul Churchland, have argued that dualism is inconsistent with the facts of human evolution and fetal development. According to this view, we began as wholly physical beings.

This is true of the species and the individual human. No one seriously supposes that newly fertilized ova are imbued with minds or that the original cell in the primordial sea was conscious. But from those entirely physical origins, nothing non-physical was later added. We can explain the evolution from the unicellular stage to present complexities by means of random mutations and natural selection in the species case and through the accretion of matter through nutritional intake in the individual case.

But if we, as species or individuals, began as wholly physical beings and nothing nonphysical was later added, then we are still wholly physical creatures. Thus, dualism is false.

Dualism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The above arguments are only as strong as our reasons for thinking that we began as wholly material beings and that nothing non-physical was later added. Some people, particularly the religious, will object that macro-evolution of a species is problematic or that God might well have infused the developing fetus with a soul at some point in the developmental process traditionally at quickening.

Most contemporary philosophers of mind put little value in these rejoinders. The Conservation of Energy Argument Others argue that dualism is scientifically unacceptable because it violates the well-established principle of the conservation of energy.

Interactionists argue that mind and matter causally interact. But if the spiritual realm is continually impinging on the universe and effecting changes, the total level of energy in the cosmos must be increasing or at least fluctuating. This is because it takes physical energy to do physical work. If the will alters states of affairs in the world such as the state of my brainthen mental energy is somehow converted into physical energy.

At the point of conversion, one would anticipate a physically inexplicable increase in the energy present within the system. If it also takes material energy to activate the mind, then "physical energy would have to vanish and reappear inside human brains. The dualists' basically have three ways of replying. First, they could deny the sacredness of the principle of the conservation of energy. This would be a desperate measure.

The principle is too well established and its denial too ad hoc. Second, the dualist might offer that mind does contribute energy to our world, but that this addition is so slight, in relation to our means of detection, as to be negligible.

This is really a re-statement of the first reply above, except that here the principle is valid in so far as it is capable of verification. Science can continue as usual, but it would be unreasonable to extend the law beyond our ability to confirm it experimentally. That would be to step from the empirical to the speculative—the very thing that the materialist objects to in dualism. The third option sidesteps the issue by appealing to another, perhaps equally valid, principle of physics.

Keith Campbell writes: The indeterminacy of quantum laws means that any one of a range of outcomes of atomic events in the brain is equally compatible with known physical laws. And differences on the quantum scale can accumulate into very great differences in overall brain condition. So there is some room for spiritual activity even within the limits set by physical law. There could be, without violation of physical law, a general spiritual constraint upon what occurs inside the head.

If this is true, the dualist could maintain the conservation principle but deny a fluctuation in energy because the mind serves to "guide" or control neural events by choosing one set of quantum outcomes rather than another.

Further, it should be remembered that the conservation of energy is designed around material interaction; it is mute on how mind might interact with matter. After all, a Cartesian rationalist might insist, if God exists we surely wouldn't say that He couldn't do miracles just because that would violate the first law of thermodynamics, would we? Problems of Interaction The conservation of energy argument points to a more general complaint often made against dualism: Since the mind is, on the Cartesian model, immaterial and unextended, it can have no size, shape, location, mass, motion or solidity.

How then can minds act on bodies? What sort of mechanism could convey information of the sort bodily movement requires, between ontologically autonomous realms? To suppose that non-physical minds can move bodies is like supposing that imaginary locomotives can pull real boxcars.

Put differently, if mind-body interaction is possible, every voluntary action is akin to the paranormal power of telekinesis, or "mind over matter. Confronting the conundrum of interaction implicit in his theory, Descartes posited the existence of "animal spirits" somewhat subtler than bodies but thicker than minds. Unfortunately, this expedient proved a dead-end, since it is as incomprehensible how the mind could initiate motion in the animal spirits as in matter itself.

These problems involved in mind-body causality are commonly considered decisive refutations of interactionism. However, many interesting questions arise in this area. We want to ask: Where does the interaction occur? What is the nature of the interface between mind and matter?

How are volitions translated into states of affairs? Aren't minds and bodies insufficiently alike for the one to effect changes in the other? To ask "How is it possible that.

And if the dualist doesn't know or cannot say how minds and bodies interact, what follows about dualism? It only follows that dualists do not know everything about metaphysics. Psychologists, physicists, sociologists, and economists don't know everything about their respective disciplines.

Why should the dualist be any different? In short, dualists can argue that they should not be put on the defensive by the request for clarification about the nature and possibility of interaction or by the criticism that they have no research strategy for producing this clarification. The objection that minds and bodies cannot interact can be the expression of two different sorts of view. On the one hand, the detractor may insist that it is physically impossible that minds act on bodies.

If this means that minds, being non-physical, cannot physically act on bodies, the claim is true but trivial. If it means that mind-body interaction violates the laws of physics such as the first law of thermodynamics, discussed abovethe dualist can reply that minds clearly do act on bodies and so the violation is only apparent and not real. After all, if we do things for reasons, our beliefs and desires cause some of our actions.

If the materialist insists that we are able to act on our beliefs, desires and perceptions only because they are material and not spiritual, the dualist can turn the tables on his naturalistic opponents and ask how matter, regardless of its organization, can produce conscious thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

How, the dualist might ask, by adding complexity to the structure of the brain, do we manage to leap beyond the quantitative into the realm of experience?

The relationship between consciousness and brain processes leaves the materialist with a causal mystery perhaps as puzzling as that confronting the dualist. On the other hand, the materialist may argue that it is a conceptual truth that mind and matter cannot interact.

This, however, requires that we embrace the rationalist thesis that causes can be known a priori. Many prefer to assert that causation is a matter for empirical investigation. We cannot, however, rule out mental causes based solely on the logic or grammar of the locutions "mind" and "matter. Otherwise, anything can be the cause of anything else. If volitions are constantly conjoined with bodily movements and regularly precede them, they are Humean causes.

In short, if Hume is correct, we cannot refute dualism a priori by asserting that transactions between minds and bodies involve links where, by definition, none can occur.

Some, such as Ducasse88; cf. While it makes sense to ask how depressing the accelerator causes the automobile to speed up, it makes no sense to ask how pressing the accelerator pedal causes the pedal to move. We can sensibly ask how to spell a word in sign language, but not how to move a finger.

Proximate causes are "basic" and analysis of them is impossible. There is no "how" to basic actions, which are brute facts. Perhaps the mind's influence on the pineal gland is basic and brute. According to epiphenomenalism, bodies are able to act on minds, but not the reverse. The causes of behavior are wholly physical. As such, we need not worry about how objects without mass or physical force can alter behavior. Nor need we be concerned with violations of the conservation of energy principle since there is little reason to suppose that physical energy is required to do non-physical work.

If bodies affect modifications in the mental medium, that need not be thought to involve a siphoning of energy from the world to the psychic realm. On this view, the mind may be likened to the steam from a train engine; the steam does not affect the workings of the engine but is caused by it.

Unfortunately, epiphenomenalism avoids the problem of interaction only at the expense of denying the common-sense view that our states of mind have some bearing on our conduct. For many, epiphenomenalism is therefore not a viable theory of mind. For a defense of the common-sense claim that beliefs and attitudes and reasons cause behavior, see Donald Davidson. The Correlation and Dependence Arguments The correlation and dependence argument against dualism begins by noting that there are clear correlations between certain mental events and neural events say, between pain and a-fiber or c-fiber stimulation.

Moreover, as demonstrated in such phenomena as memory loss due to head trauma or wasting disease, the mind and its capacities seem dependent upon neural function. The simplest and best explanation of this dependence and correlation is that mental states and events are neural states and events and that pain just is c-fiber stimulation. This would be the argument employed by an identity theorist.

A functionalist would argue that the best explanation for the dependence and correlation of mental and physical states is that, in humans, mental states are brain states functionally defined. Descartes himself anticipated an objection like this and argued that dependence does not strongly support identity.

plato mind and body relationship problems

He illustrates by means of the following example: The manifestation of the musician's ability is thus dependent upon being able to use a well-tuned instrument in proper working order.

But from the fact that the exhibition of the maestro's skill is impossible without a functioning instrument, it hardly follows that being skilled at playing the violin amounts to no more than possessing such an instrument. Similarly, the interactionist can claim that the mind uses the brain to manifest it's abilities in the public realm. If, like the violin, the brain is in a severely diseased or injurious state, the mind cannot demonstrate its abilities; they of necessity remain private and unrevealed.

However, for all we know, the mind still has its full range of abilities, but is hindered in its capacity to express them. As for correlation, interactionism actually predicts that mental events are caused by brain events and vice versa, so the fact that perceptions are correlated with activity in the visual cortex does not support materialism over this form of dualism. Property dualists agree with the materialists that mental phenomena are dependent upon physical phenomena, since the fomer are non-physical attributes of the latter.

Materialists are aware of these dualist replies and sometimes invoke Ockham's razor and the importance of metaphysical simplicity in arguments to the best explanation. See Churchland,p. Other materialist responses will not be considered here. The Problem of Other Minds The problem of how we can know other minds has been used as follows to refute dualism.

If the mind is not publicly observable, the existence of minds other than our own must be inferred from the behavior of the other person or organism. The reliability of this inference is deeply suspect, however, since we only know that certain mental states cause characteristic behavior from our own case.

To extrapolate to the population as a whole from the direct inspection of a single example, our own case, is to make the weakest possible inductive generalization. Hence, if dualism is true, we cannot know that other people have minds at all. But common sense tell us that others do have minds. Since common sense can be trust, dualism is false. This problem of other mindsto which dualism leads so naturally, is often used to support rival theories such as behaviorismthe mind-brain identity theoryor functionalism though functionalists sometimes claim that their theory is consistent with dualism.

Since the mind, construed along Cartesian lines, leads to solipsism that is, to the epistemological belief that one's self is the only existence that can be verified and knownit is better to operationalize the mind and define mental states behaviorally, functionally, or physiologically.

If mental states are just behavioral states, brain states, or functional states, then we can verify that others have mental states on the basis of publicly observable phenomena, thereby avoiding skepticism about other selves. Materialist theories are far less vulnerable to the problem of other minds than dualist theories, though even here other versions of the problem stubbornly reappear. Deciding to define mental states behaviorally does not mean that mental states are behavioral, and it is controversial whether attempts to reduce mentality to behavioral, brain, or functional states have been successful.

Moreover, the "Absent Qualia" argument claims that it is perfectly imaginable and consistent with everything that we know about physiology that, of two functionally or physiologically isomorphic beings, one might be conscious and the other not.

Mind-Body Relationship

Of two outwardly indistinguishable dopplegangers, one might have experience and the other none. Both would exhibit identical neural activity; both would insist that they can see the flowers in the meadow and deny that they are "blind"; both would be able to obey the request to go fetch a red flower; and yet only one would have experience.

The other would be like an automaton. Consequently, it is sometimes argued, even a materialist cannot be wholly sure that other existing minds have experience of a qualitative whence, "qualia" sort. The problem for the materialist then becomes not the problem of other minds, but the problem of other qualia. The latter seems almost as severe an affront to common sense as the former. For an interesting related discussion, see Churchland on eliminative materialism,pp.

Stay Connected

Criticisms of the Mind as a Thinking Thing We earlier observed that some philosophers, such as Hume, have objected that supposing that the mind is a thinking thing is not warranted since all we apprehend of the self by introspection is a collection of ideas but never the mind that purportedly has these ideas. All we are therefore left with is a stream of impressions and ideas but no persisting, substantial self to constitute personal identity. If there is no substratum of thought, then substance dualism is false.

Kant, too, denied that the mind is a substance. Mind is simply the unifying factor that is the logical preliminary to experience. The idea that the mind is not a thinking thing was revived in the twentieth century by philosophical behaviorists.

plato mind and body relationship problems

According to Gilbert Ryle in his seminal work The Concept of Mind, "when we describe people as exercising qualities of mind, we are not referring to occult episodes of which their overt acts and utterances are effects; we are referring to those overt acts and utterances themselves.

Thus, "When a person is described by one or other of the intelligence epithets such as 'shrewd' or 'silly', 'prudent' or 'imprudent', the description imputes to him not the knowledge, or ignorance, of this or that truth, but the ability, or inability, to do certain sorts of things. For the behaviorist, we say that the clown is clever because he can fall down deliberately yet make it look like an accident We say the student is bright because she can tell us the correct answer to complex, involved equations.

Mental events reduce to bodily events or statements about the body. As Ludwig Wittgenstein notes in his Blue Book: It is misleading then to talk of thinking as of a "mental activity. This activity is performed by the hand, when we think by writing; by the mouth and larynx, when we think by speaking; and if we think by imagining signs or pictures, I can give you no agent that thinks. If then you say that in such cases the mind thinks, I would only draw your attention to the fact that you are using a metaphor.

Philosophical behaviorism as developed by followers of Wittgenstein was supported in part by the Private Language Argument. Anthony Kenny explains: Any word purporting to be the name of something observable only by introspection i. If the names of the emotions acquire their meaning for each of us by a ceremony from which everyone else is excluded, then none of us can have any idea what anyone else means by the word.

Nor can anyone know what he means by the word himself; for to know the meaning of a word is to know how to use it rightly; and where there can be no check on how a man uses a word there is no room to talk of "right" and "wrong" use p.

Mentalistic terms do not have meaning by virtue of referring to occult phenomena, but by virtue of referring to something public in a certain way. To understand the meaning of words like "mind," "idea," "thought," "love," "fear," "belief," "dream," and so forth, we must attend to how these words are actually learned in the first place.

When we do this, the behaviorist is confident that the mind will be demystified. Although philosophical behaviorism has fallen out of fashion, its recommendations to attend to the importance of the body and language in attempting to understand the mind have remained enduring contributions. Although dualism faces serious challenges, we have seen that many of these difficulties can be identified in its philosophical rivals in slightly different forms.

References and Further Reading Aristotle, Categories. Baker, Gordon and Morris, Katherine J. Descartes' Dualism Routledge, London The Nature of Consciousness: Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint trans.

Oxford University Press, Oxford The Philosophical Works of Descartes, vol. Cambridge University Press, Thought Princeton University Press, Princeton Basil Blackwell, Oxford pp. Philosophy of Mind Westview Press, Boulder Essay Concerning Human Understanding vol. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford Prentice-HallEnglewood Cliffs Metaphysics, 3rd edition Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs