MINDS/SOULS AND BODIES

 

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SOME QUESTIONS:

 

What do you think the soul is, and how is it related to the body?  Why would you want to believe there is such a thing as a soul?

 

 

 

What does 'matter' mean?  Is the body really just a machine?  Does the body feel, does it feel pain and pleasure?  Does it smile? Laugh? Cry? Get depressed? Or does only the mind get depressed or feel pain or laugh or cry?  How can you cry without tears?  Or laugh or smile without a face? 

 

 

 

Where is your toothache?  In your tooth or in your brain?? mind??  If it's only in your mind then you should go to the psycho not to the dentist?

 

 

 

Can computers think?  What would it prove if they could?  If computers could think, would this prove there was no mind or soul?  Or would it just demonstrate that ‘matter’ in certain configurations gives rise to or provokes the emergence of soul or mind?

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Some reading for starters:

 

(A)Traditional positions:

 

1. DUALISM, sometimes called 'dualist interactionism': Plato, St Augustine, Bonaventure, Descartes: the idea that we are really two things, not one.

 

The most cogent philosophical reason for dualism is a perception that various features of the universe, or of the behaviour of certain constituents of the universe such as human beings and the higher animals, are beyond the capacity of mere matter.  Matter, it appears, is not capable of explaining the dynamism perceptible everywhere in the universe and particularly in living things;  nor is it capable of explaining its own order.  Still less is it capable of explaining the intelligence and creativity of human beings and other advanced animals.  By no stretch of the imagination is it capable of explaining thought, awareness or consciousness and self-awareness, no matter how well organized.  Even computers, arguably, don't think, no more than does a slide rule or an abacus or a mechanical calculator.  These differ in degree, not in kind.  They don't think, they are not conscious, they all just churn over.  [This latter point is well brought out by the contemporary philosopher John Searle, in a argument called the Chinese Room thought experiment.  However, the situation is very complicated, and takes us to the heart of contemporary mind-brain debates.]

 

            If this is the way things are with matter, it would seem that there has to be an entirely different kind of stuff around, psyche or anima or soul, to explain the dynamism in things and especially in living things, especially the fact that the dynamism is ordered and intelligent, culminating in human beings with their intelligence and creativity and free will.  Or at least to explain thought, the awareness and self-awareness to be found in human beings (Descartes and most modern dualists).  When thought of as the principle or source or foundation in us of thought and intelligence and freedom in human beings,  we are more likely to use another word for this reality, the word 'mind', in Greek 'nous', in Latin, 'mens' (as in 'mental').

 

            Once you make them into different things there are various ways of conceiving the relationship between soul and body: the soul is in the body as a pilot in a ship, or perhaps as a prisoner in a prison, can't wait to die and go to heaven, though one certainly does not have to have this dismal a concept of the body in order to be a dualist.  The important idea is that the soul is a separate thing to the body and even a separate kind or variety of thing.  Finally, in so far as the soul is a separate substance or thing in its own right, there is going to be little trouble with survival after death.  Death = the separation of soul and body, like a divorce which happens when the body breaks down to the point of being no longer a fit place to be inhabited by or to interact with a soul.

 

            We need to distinguish at least two different forms of dualism, however:

 

(a) Platonic dualism, as in Plato, Augustine, Bonaventure and most theologians prior to St Thomas: soul is the principle or foundation or fundamental source in us of life, including mental life but not exhausted by mental life.  Consciousness or thought is not the big issue; dynamism and order is at least as important.  And even in respect of higher functions, the focus is on intelligence and freedom rather than on consciousness, being aware and self-aware, as such.  Only human beings have immortal souls, but soul is present in all life and according to Plato with his Cosmic Soul in the Cosmos or universe as a whole, explaining its dynamism and order as well as the special dynamism and order of some of its constituents.  Everything is 'ensouled', this being the explanation why this universe is not the dull, passive place which it would be if there were only mere matter.

 

(b) Cartesian dualism: the focus is entirely on thought, awareness and self-awareness, which for Descartes himself seems to be confined to human beings.  There are two kinds of things, res cogitans, things which think, and res extensa, things which take up space.  I am a thing which thinks, sum res cogitans.  The body meanwhile is a piece of complicated machinery.  Body and mind or soul causally interact with each other according to Descartes via the pineal gland = a gland in the brain in respect of which Descartes did not know any bodily function for.  Other animals are just bits of machinery in their entirety -- they don't have souls or minds, they are not conscious, they don't feel pain etc., so you don't have to worry about vivisection or animal rights or anything like that. 

 

            The main argument for dualism is premised on a conception of 'matter' as in its own right something fairly passive, together with our experience of ourselves.  Indeed, the more passive your idea of matter the more tempting and indeed inevitable some form of dualism becomes as a way of making sense of the full data of experience about the way things actually are.  'Matter' in itself for its part is no more clear or self-explanatory a concept than is 'mind' or 'soul'.  This is something that people often overlook.  In typical use, 'matter' is just a word with people throw about in order to cover a gap.  The English word is derived from the Latin, 'materia', which translates the Greek, 'hyle'. Both 'materia' and 'hyle' started life as words for the trunk of a tree, the 'mother-wood' so to speak (mater, mother), which you use as building material, as distinct from the branches, lignum, which you use for fire-wood.  The philosophical usage is by way of a metaphorical extension of this more primitive use.  Perhaps the metaphorical origins of the concept already prejudice us into thinking of building material, wood, bricks, morter, as the paradigm case of what matter is -- dead, lifeless, stuff which by itself will never come to anything.

 

Similarly with the human body.  If you think of a human body as a pure object, just a complicated machine, then it becomes almost inevitable that we invent something else to have feelings and be self-aware.  But maybe our problem is with a faulty concept of the human body in the first place.  Maybe the body is not such a dull, passive thing after all.

 

            Dualism of any kind will face a number of other problems:

 

1)     How to explain the interaction between two such diverse kinds of things?  Some possibilities:

·        ‘Occasionalism’ (often associated with the 17th C. philosopher Malebranche): on the occasion of my willing to lift my hand, God makes it move.

·        ‘Pre-established Harmony’ (Leibniz): mind and body are like two clocks wound up to keep the same time.

·        ‘Parallelism’ (Spinoza): mind and body don’t interact, they move in parallel streams, with what happens in one being reflected in the other.

The view of Spinoza, however, is also capable of being construed as a version of a position in between dualism and monism called ‘dual-aspect identity theory’: mind and body are one thing, with two different properties or aspects, roughly what is experienced from within versus what is seen from without.  See later, under Contemporary Mind-Brain Debate.

 

2)     How to explain the arising of Mind in the first place, starting with dead and vacuous matter.  This is more of a problem for post Cartesian philosophy than for ancient and medieval Platonism for whom Psyche is a cosmic reality to start with before it becomes enclosed in human flesh.

In the long term, the only truly plausible solution may be that matter is not so vacuous after all: see above.

 

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2. MATERIALISM:  in spite of having a relatively low conception of matter, one can be brave and just deny that there is anything else. 

 

In the Ancient World, the clearest example of this position is that of the Greek and Roman Atomists, Lucippus and Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius:  soul atoms, the smoothest and most subtle of all atoms, perception as in seeing, hearing etc. as atoms coming from outside and causing agitations in the soul atoms.  But even the Atomists are not completely consistent, in some places endowing soul atoms with self-movement, if for no other reason than to explain random thoughts. 

 

            In modern times, Hobbes was a materialist, as were some of the French Philosophes in the 18th Century.  Materialism results when people take just the bottom half of Descartes and try to do without the top half.

 

One ‘advantage’ of materialism is that it seems to make the whole universe, including also human beings, scientifically explicable, meaning by ‘science’ natural science and eventually physics.  The only difficulty is whether natural science has itself dispensed with the crude conceptions of matter that dominated modern science in its early stages.  At this point we may need to distinguish between ‘physicalism’ = physics can explain everything, including mind, and ‘eliminative materialism’ = there is no such thing as mind.

 

            Many, probably most physiologists and brain scientists were materialists of a sort, at least until quite recently.  See later, Contemporary Mind-Brain Debate.  This is/was at a time when materialism in any crude form has had its day in fundamental physics.  It is now recognized that the 'material' universe is far from a passive, dull place.  Whether it is yet rich enough to make sense of what human beings and other higher animals are about, is another question.

 

 

3. Aristotelian and Thomistic Hylomorphism:  Body is to Soul as Matter (HYLE) is to Form (MORPHE).  Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, modern Thomists.

 

ARISTOTLE

 

            Aristotle starts off with a conception of matter as full of unrealized potentiality.  In itself it is neither this nor that.  What matter in a certain situation is capable of doing or being is a function of its form, structure, organization, in Greek eidos, or morphe, in Latin forma.  It is ‘form’ which brings out or ‘actualizes’  this potentiality in one direction rather than another.  It is 'form', then, rather than matter, which makes a material substance to be what it is, e.g. a human being or a dog, rather than a cat or a mouse or a tree or a stone, even though they are all made out of the same basic stuff.  [Consider the stupidity of people who say we are only really worth about $14, this being the value of the crude chemicals in our body.  The only problem is, it has taken a 5 billion year 'research project' to realize the potentiality of these chemicals in the form of a human being.  And to know about these chemicals is to know almost nothing -- it probably wouldn't be enough to differentiate a human being from a dog or even a pile of chemicals in the backyard.]

 

            Psyche or Anima or Soul, for an Aristotelian, is the name given to form (forma, morphe) in the case of living things - all living things, not only human beings.  In most of the animal kingdom, forma or anima consists in a certain way of actualizing the potential of a bit of matter, and nothing more, such that when that particular actualization breaks down the animal soul by definition ceases to exist.  Psyche or anima, then, is most of the time just a fact about the matter, though a very important fact indeed in so far as it is only because it is 'formed' that way that matter has such powers and it is form we need to talk about if we want to explain anything much --matter by itself explains hardly anything.  Indeed it is not all that clear whether Aristotle himself believed any more than this even about human beings, nor whether he believed in the immortality of the individual human soul.  Aristotle allows that certain capacities which we appear to have, e.g. some of our intellectual powers, especially what he calls nous poetikos (active or creative intelligence, poetikos the word from which we get 'poetry') would seem to be beyond the capacity of mere matter no matter how structured or organized.  But his writings are ambiguous as to whether this power belongs to us as individuals or whether we get it by all participating, while in a certain state of consciousness, somehow in some kind of super-mind.  This latter would explain how come we all end up with the same maths and the same science.  But it also tends to keep us as individuals in the status of mere material substances. 

 

Aquinas is not at all ambiguous: while we are material substances, we are also something more, in so far as we do things which mere material substances could not do.  This gives us some grounds for believing that something of us will survive.  But full salvation will require the resurrection of the body.

           

This all makes for a much more unitary conception of a human being.  The human being is an intelligent, living, perceiving, laughing, crying body, one unitary substance, not a soul in a body.  Soul and body are not two substances but related to each other as form to matter. They are answers to two different questions about the same one reality: it is soul which make a something human rather than a dog or a cat, it is matter which makes it into a body, distinguished from other bodies, including other human beings even identical twins, taking up this bit of space rather than some other bit. The human person is not the soul but the 'composite' of soul and body, and the human person even in its intellectual functions, e.g. knowledge, relies on the body.  Indeed, going the other way, the body without the soul is not a human body, just a heap of different material substances, lacking any unity or any unified activity of its own, which is why it soon decomposes after death.

           

It also makes much better sense of the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.  For dualists, it is very difficult to know why we would want to get a body back anyway.  It also fits better the background in the Scriptures to the doctrine of and hope for the resurrection: a much more unitary conception of the human being. 

 

            Dualism, fear of the body and emphasis on immortality of (and saving your) soul is Greek rather than Hebrew in origin.  Soul in Scripture is similar in usage to the word 'heart', = your innermost self, your deepest point, the real inner you, as in rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham, or love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind.  It does not, or need not, refer to another kind of thing, which happens to be imprisoned in a body.  Dualists may point out however that some kind of immortality of the soul is needed in order to maintain the identity of a person between death and the last day, something to provide some continuity between this life and the next.  St Thomas of course tries to have it both ways, a real but deficient immortality of the soul, deficiencies made up for on the last day with the resurrection of the body, at which stage only can we talk of a person being fully saved.  Another way of solving this objection is that of David Coffey and others: a resurrection of the body immediately after death.

 

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(B) SOME 20TH CENTURY VIEWS:

 

1.      Merleau-Ponty: Human beings as Body-Subjects:

 

            The most determined attempt this century to transcend Cartesian dualism on the one hand and materialism on the other, and indeed the whole Cartesian way of posing the problem has probably been that of the French existential Phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty 1908-1961.

 

·        Dualism: the view of the human being as a composite of body and spirit, a mind in a body, a ghost in a machine (Gilbert Ryle, another important player in 20th century philosophical debates on minds and bodies).  If we start with dualism and then try to overcome it by making one or the other factor primary, we either reduce mind to body (= materialism) or identify the real person with the incorporeal soul or spirit.  But the problem is misconceived.  First we get the body wrong and then we have to invent something else called a spirit or soul. 

 

·        I/we am not a mind plus a body or a mind in a body.  I am a human body, one reality with different aspects, at the same time material and spiritual, a human body, perceiving and perceived, seeing and seen, touching and touched, pleasing and pleased, hurting and hurt. 

 

·        We can of course consider the body purely objectively, like a surgeon perhaps does while in the operating theatre and then we naturally distinguish between the body as object and the subject.  But this is a distinction within the one reality, an abstraction, a looking for certain purposes at one side of the reality. "...the objective body is not the truth of the phenomenal body, the truth, that is to say, of the body as we live it.  It is only an impoverished image thereof, and the problem of the relations between soul and body do not concern the objective body, which has only a conceptual existence, but the phenomenal body." (Copleston, pp. 200f.)  The human body, considered as a purely physical object distinct from the subject is an abstraction, a mental invention, legitimate enough for a variety of purposes but not an expression of the body as lived or experienced, whether my own body or that of another.  The latter is the body subject.  Indeed, in practice it is amazing how rarely we do treat human bodies as just physical or chemical objects or biological objects.  Even doctors do this only to a limited extent - though when they are doing surgery they absolutely need to.  A surgeon can't normally operate on his/her own wife/husband because they can't make the requisite abstraction.  Most of the time human bodies as immediately experienced from early childhood onwards are things which have smiles, hurt, feel pain, express all kinds of emotions.  This is a fact, confirmed by hourly experience.  We ought not to be bamboozled by the scientific abstractions into denying our daily experience.

 

·        This notion of the body-subject, among other things, makes for a very straightforward solution to the problem of other minds.  The subject is not a ghost hidden away behind the body, his or her existence requiring to be inferred by analogy with my own body.  The subject is the body itself, the body-subject, of which the physical body is an abstraction, in the case of other people also.   It is something I see when I open my eyes, touch when I reach out my hands.  The small child does not infer the existence of its mother from the smile which it sees on her face or from the movements of her hands.  It has a pre-reflective perception of its mother in the dialogue of their behaviours.  One recognizes the behaviour of other people as behaviour and understand it before I learn to correlate my bodily movements with my thought and intentions.  There is no argument involved.  The notion of human behaviour is operative here: I immediately interpret the acts of another human being not as movements of matter in space and time but as 'behaviour', and this immediately and directly, not by way of analogy.  Later on I can decide to treat what is in fact immediately experienced as behaviour as just movements of matter in space and time, e.g. in using this as an example in a physics class.  But deciding to treat something as such and such for certain purposes doesn't make it so or stop it being the other.  "No sooner has my gaze fallen upon a living body in the process of acting, than the objects surrounding it immediately take on a fresh layer of significance: they are no longer simply what I could make of them, they are what this other pattern of behaviour is about to make of them."  This is the case even when I don't understand the behaviour: I immediately want to know what the significance of it is, why s/he is behaving like that.  The main problem with behaviourism in psychology is not that it ignores the reality of the mind or consciousness but that it starts off with a faulty concept of 'behaviour'.  Our own everyday concept, as in 'be on your best behaviour' is a much closer rendition of our actual experience.  In behaviour properly understood we are dealing already with a body subject, not just a physical body.

 

            For a fairly straightforward introduction to Merleau-Ponty, see Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 9, Part II, pp. 193-208 (= pp. 397-412 in hardcover library edition of Volume 9).  See also James Foley, "Merleau-Ponty - Body-Soul", in Humanity and the After Life, edited Moses and Ormerod, pp. 120-131.

 

 

2.      PROCESS THINKING on minds and bodies:

 

            For Process-Relational Thinkers like Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, John Cobb and David Griffin, there is no great problem in conceiving of the relationship between mind and body.  Everything in the universe has the same basic nature.  Everything is a process of more or less creatively taking account of its total past environment and a giving of itself to be taken into account by the future of that same environment.  In less anthropomorphic language, everything is reception, transformation and transmission of energy and information from the total past environment to the future of that environment.  But, as the universe evolves, there is a progressive development towards more and more subtle and complex kinds of environmental order, capable of supporting the existence of higher and higher grade series of events, and eventually of those kinds of series of events we call animal and human minds. 

 

            We (as minds) then are an ordinary natural kind of series of events, of higher grade than sub-atomic events or atomic events or molecular events or cellular events or brain events.  The higher the grade event, the more the capacity for taking into account the environment and responding to it in a creative fashion.  The quality and effective extent of the reception, the degree of creativity or self-initiative in the transformation and the likely effectiveness of the transmission all tend to increase as you go up the ladder.  Conversely, what kinds of events are possible is a function of the richness of the sustaining environment.  In order to give rise to mental life as we know it at this stage in evolution, there is required a functioning brain in a body in a society of language users at very least.

 

            Whether this series of 'mental events' could sustain itself, once brought into existence in the natural course of events, outside a human or other higher animal organism is a difficult question, on which process thinkers themselves are in serious disagreement.  Whitehead is non-committal.  Hartshorne is strongly against, for a variety of reasons, including serious religious and ethical reasons.  He thinks of it as a kind of selfishness, as well as being unlikely.  David Griffin argues fairly strongly in favour of the possibility: process-relational thinking does not rule it out, and there is some empirical evidence in favour.   We will read some of Griffin when we do life after death.

           

            Lately, Whiteheadian inspired people have been doing their best to play a constructive role in contemporary mind-brain debates, sometimes in alliance with the attempts to put Quantum Theory to good use.  See Folder 3 (in library, periodicals section)  from recent Claremont conference.

 

 

(C)The contemporary MIND-BRAIN DEBATE: the options

 

See attached overheads.  This may give you some idea of the rather complicated and by no means resolved contemporary state of play.

 

            One of the difficulties about the way the problem is typically posed nowadays in terms of Mind and Brain (rather than Mind and Body) is that in spite of the change of emphasis or even perhaps because of it, the problem is for most people still conceived in the manner of Descartes, relating consciousness on the one hand with what is assumed to be a bit of complicated machinery on the other.  In fact it may be even more poorly posed, in so far as it separates not only Mind but also Brain from the socialized, language using human being - a critique pushed strongly nowadays by some followers of the Austrian philosopher Wittgenstein, e.g. a bloke by the name of Dilman.  We really have been bamboozled by the scientific treatment of the human body, preferring this to our daily experience, rather than taking the former as a modelling of certain features only of the body as we experience it.  But perhaps in this scientistic age this is inevitable, and the likes of Merleau-Ponty and Wittgenstein are fighting a losing battle.

 

FURTHER READING

Thomas Nagel, What does it all mean?  Ch. 4 "The Mind-Body Problem", pp. 27-37.

John Macquarrie, In Search of Humanity, Ch. V, "Embodiedness", pp. 47-58.  Copy of this enclosed with these notes.

F. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 9, Part II, pp. 193-208.

Bibliography on contemporary mind-brain debate is attached.

There is a wealth of recently acquired material now in the Banyo library.

 

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MINDS, SOULS AND BODIES

 

 

TRADITIONAL POSITIONS

 

 

1. DUALISM: we are really two things, not just one, interacting with each other, one named SOUL or MIND, the other named THE BODY

 

- two things, two different kinds of things.

 

main argument for dualism: we do things beyond the capacity of mere matter, no matter how complicated.

 

different ways of modelling the relationship: pilot in a ship, soul in a prison...

 

 

TWO DIFFERENT FORMS OF DUALISM:

 

(a) Platonic Dualism:  soul as principle of life, mind as its highest part or expression.

 

(b) Cartesian Dualism: soul or mind = a thing which thinks, 'sum res cogitans' versus body which is 'res extensa', a bit of machinery, as are all animals according to Descartes.

 

 

MAIN REASON FOR DUALISM: the way we experience ourselves, coupled with a fairly low conception of matter.

 

PROBLEMS WITH DUALISM:

 

1)    EXPLAINING THE INTERACTION

 

2)    HOW DID ‘MIND’ GET INTO THE UNIVERSE?


Platonic Dualism

 

 

 


Soul  

= principle of

       of

      life

 

 

 

Soul = principle of life, a kind of reality in its own right, responsible for the dynamism and order in things, with a different relation to space than matter (spirit is where it acts or is acted upon)

Body = matter, which requires soul if it is to be at all dynamic or ordered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cartesian Dualism

 

 

 

 


Soul =

A thing

Which

Thinks

 

They (somehow)

Interact causally

Body =

A thing

Which

Takes up

Space,

= a bit of machinery

 

Soul has no relationship at all to space: it doesn't make sense to ask what shape your thought about next year is.

 

 

 

 

 

2. MATERIALISM: in spite of having a low conception of matter, one can be brave and just deny there is anything else.

 

Various forms, ranging from ancient atomism to contemporary reductionist identity theories.

 

MAIN ATTRACTION OF MATERIALISM: makes everything scientifically explicable, including human beings in their entirety.

 

 

 

3. Aristotelian and Thomistic HYLOMORPHISM:  BODY IS TO SOUL AS MATTER (HYLE) IS TO FORM (MORPHE)

 

 

Aristotle: Matter as full of unrealized potentiality.  What it gives rise to depends on how it is formed. 

Higher mental functions still present a problem, which he appears not sure how to solve.

 

 

Thomas: Soul as an incomplete substance which determines that a bit of matter should have this particular form.   'Incomplete' in so far as it relies on the realized potentiality of matter in the body which it brings about in order to do its thing - even in knowing and loving.

On the other side, body without its soul is not a human body, just a collection of different material substances.

 

 

This makes better sense of the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body, and of the Hebrew more unitary conception of the human being

 


Hylomorphism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Soul :: Body as Form:: Matter

 

Soul brings out the potential of matter in one direction rather than another, makes it a human being rather than a dog or a cat or a pile of dust.  It is the fundamental organizing principle of the thing, the foundation for its characteristic activities (including mental).

 

(Similar diagram for Merleau-Ponty, though the detail is very different.)

 

 

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MINDS, SOULS AND BODIES (CONT.)

 

SOME 20TH CENTURY POSITIONS:

 

 

MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY (1908 -1961): HUMAN BEINGS AS BODY-SUBJECTS

 

          - we start with a faulty conception of the human body as the 'objective body';

          - but this latter is an abstraction, not the body as we live it or as it is immediately experienced.

          - the body as lived or experienced is already subject, person.  This is a fact, confirmed by hourly experienced.  We ought not to be bamboozled by the scientific abstractions into denying our daily experience.

          - this solves all kinds of otherwise insoluble problems, and gives us a much more adequate notion of 'behaviour'.

 

 

PROCESS THINKING ON MINDS AND BODIES: Whitehead, Hartshorne, John Cobb, David Griffin. 

 

          - everything is a creative taking into account of its total past environment and a giving of itself to be taken into account by the future of that environment.

          - this happens at various levels, with higher levels situated in and sustained by and being drawn on by lower levels.

          - we as minds are an ordinary natural kind of series of events, of higher grade than sub-atomic or atomic or molecular or cellular or brain events.

         


 

THE CONTEMPORARY MIND-BRAIN DEBATE: OUTLINE OF POSITIONS:

 

 

1) DUALIST INTERACTIONISM: John Eccles and Karl Popper.

 

 

2) NON-DUALIST ANTI-REDUCTIONIST THEORIES: various varieties:

 

(A) EMERGENTIST MONISM - esp. Roger Sperry, 'mentalist monism'

  - matter at a certain level of complexity gives rise to mind, which then interacts with it.

 

(B) PROCESS-RELATIONAL AND OTHER MULTI-LEVEL ONTOLOGIES

– mental events as high grade natural events taking place in certain rich environments, nothing particularly special

 

(C) DUAL-ASPECT or soft IDENTITY THEORIES (esp. J. Searle and D.M. MacKay, with a background in Spinoza)

  - consciousness as identical with certain brain events, as lived through from within versus as seen from without.

 

(D) ‘SUPERVENIENCE’ IDENTITY THEORIES (sometimes the same as with C or A above): Mind or mentality or ‘mental’ events and processes

‘supervene’ on physical events and processes, in much the same way  as the liquidity of water supervenes at the macro level on the molecules of water. [‘Supervenes’, like ‘emergence’, however, tends often to be a word to cover a gap, a question rather than an answer.]

 

(E) EPIPHENOMENALISM 

  - there is consciousness, mental events, but it is no more than an epi-phenomenon, of no causal influence or evolutionary significance.

 

 

3) MATERIALIST REDUCTIONISM/HARD IDENTITY THEORIES: there are no mental events as such, no such thing as 'consciousness'

(because we can't (yet) understand it scientifically, therefore it doesn't exist - a left-over from primitive modes of thinking which they hope we will grow out of one day.)

 

 

4) FUNCTIONALISM:  mentality as a particular kind of functioning; in what hardware this is realized is irrelevant.  Mentality related to physical reality = software to hardware.

 

 

5) TO RECOGNIZE THE LIMITS OF SCIENTIFIC THINKING : science can't make sense of it but science isn't everything.  Perhaps we will never be able to understand human consciousness: there is no reason why a middle-range primate which has managed to come down from the trees should be able to fully understand the mysteries of the universe.

(This is susceptible to more than one possibility, depending on whether the person in question equates understanding with scientific understanding.)

 

 


Mind-Brain Identity Theory

(cf. Spinoza)

 


                              Mind: experienced directly

And immediately, 'from inside'

                  

 

 

 


They are in fact the same thing,

Looked at from two different

Angles.

 

 

 

 

 


                                Brain:

Experienced indirectly, through sense perception and scientific instruments

 

 

 

 

Recent Additions to the Library (Dewey decimal 126 and 128.2 mostly)

 

The following collections:

 

The Mind-Body Problem: A Guide to the Current Debate.  Edited by Richard Warner and Tadensz.  Blackwell, Oxford, 1994.

 

The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates.  Edited by Ned Block, Owen Flanagan and Guven Guzeldere.  MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 1997.

 

Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem.  Edited by Jonathan Shear.  MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1995-7.

 

 

Plus the following:

 

Roger Penrose et al.  The Large, the Small and the Human Mind.  CUP, 1997.

 

John R. Searle.  The Mystery of Consciousness.  Granta Books, London, 1997.

 

John R. Searle.  The Rediscovery of the Mind.  MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1992.

 

Owen Flanagan.  Consciousness Reconsidered. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.,  1992….

 

 

For (much, much) more, see David Chalmers’ Home Page, at www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/ .

 

 

Video: “Is Mind Distinct from Body?” The Examined Life, 3.  In library: SP 128.2

E24, I.

 

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