The mind–body problem is an unsolved problem concerning the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind, and the brain as part of the physical body. It is distinct from the question of how mind and body function chemically and physiologically since that question presupposes an interactionist account of mind-body relations.This question arises when mind and body are considered as distinct, based on the premise that the mind and the body are fundamentally different in nature.
A list of unsolved problems may refer to several conjectures or open problems in various academic fields:
Consciousness is the state or quality of sentience or awareness of internal or external existence. It has been defined variously in terms of qualia, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul, the fact that there is something 'that it is like' to 'have' or 'be' it, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. According to Max Velmans and Susan Schneider, "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives."
The problem was addressed by René Descartes in the 17th century, resulting in Cartesian dualism, and by pre-Aristotelian philosophers,in Avicennian philosophy, and in earlier Asian traditions. A variety of approaches have been proposed. Most are either dualist or monist. Dualism maintains a rigid distinction between the realms of mind and matter. Monism maintains that there is only one unifying reality, substance or essence in terms of which everything can be explained.
René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy.
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of thought, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school and later on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings. In the Islamic Golden Age, Avicenna and Averroes translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, Aristotelianism became a major part of early Islamic philosophy.
Avicennism is a school in Islamic philosophy which was established by Avicenna. He developed his philosophy throughout the course of his life after being deeply moved and concerned by the Metaphysics of Aristotle and studying it for over a year. According to Henry Corbin and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, there are two kind of Avicennism: Islamic or Iranian Avicennism, and Latin Avicennism. According to Nasr, the Latin Avicennism was based on the former philosophical works of Avicenna. This school followed the Peripatetic school of philosophy and tried to describe the structure of reality with a rational system of thinking. In the twelfth century AD, It became influential in Europe, particularly in Oxford and Paris, and affected some notable philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon and Duns Scotus. While the Latin Avicennism was weak in comparison with Latin Averroism, according to Étienne Gilson there was a "Avicennising Augustinism". On the other hand, Islamic Avicennism is based on his later works which is known as "The oriental philosophy". Therefore, philosophy in the eastern Islamic civilization providing became close to gnosis and tried to provide a vision of a spiritual universe. This approach paved the road for the Iranian school of Illuminationism by Suhrawardi.
Each of these categories contain numerous variants. The two main forms of dualism are substance dualism, which holds that the mind is formed of a distinct type of substance not governed by the laws of physics, and property dualism, which holds that mental properties involving conscious experience are fundamental properties, alongside the fundamental properties identified by a completed physics. The three main forms of monism are physicalism, which holds that the mind consists of matter organized in a particular way; idealism, which holds that only thought truly exists and matter is merely an illusion; and neutral monism, which holds that both mind and matter are aspects of a distinct essence that is itself identical to neither of them. Psychophysical parallelism is a third possible alternative regarding the relation between mind and body, between interaction (dualism) and one-sided action (monism).
Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is composed of just one kind of substance—the physical kind—there exist two distinct kinds of properties: physical properties and mental properties. In other words, it is the view that non-physical, mental properties inhere in or supervene upon certain physical substances.
In philosophy, physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that "everything is physical", that there is "nothing over and above" the physical, or that everything supervenes on the physical. Physicalism is a form of ontological monism—a "one substance" view of the nature of reality as opposed to a "two-substance" (dualism) or "many-substance" (pluralism) view. Both the definition of "physical" and the meaning of physicalism have been debated.
In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.
Several philosophical perspectives have been developed which reject the mind–body dichotomy. The historical materialism of Karl Marx and subsequent writers, itself a form of physicalism, held that consciousness was engendered by the material contingencies of one's environment.An explicit rejection of the dichotomy is found in French structuralism, and is a position that generally characterized post-war Continental philosophy.
Historical materialism, also known as the materialist conception of history, is a methodology used by some communist and Marxist historiographers that focuses on human societies and their development through history, arguing that history is the result of material conditions rather than ideas. This was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818–1883) as the "materialist conception of history." It is principally a theory of history which asserts that the material conditions of a society's mode of production or in Marxist terms, the union of a society's productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society's organization and development. Historical materialism is an example of Marx and Engel's scientific socialism, attempting to show that socialism and communism are scientific necessities rather than philosophical ideals.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.
In sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, structuralism is the methodology that implies elements of human culture must be understood by way of their relationship to a broader, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternatively, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract structure".
The absence of an empirically identifiable meeting point between the non-physical mind (if there is such a thing) and its physical extension (if there is such a thing) has proven problematic to dualism, and many modern philosophers of mind maintain that the mind is not something separate from the body.These approaches have been particularly influential in the sciences, particularly in the fields of sociobiology, computer science, evolutionary psychology, and the neurosciences.
Sociobiology is a field of biology that aims to examine and explain social behavior in terms of evolution. It draws from disciplines including ethology, anthropology, evolution, zoology, archaeology, and population genetics. Within the study of human societies, sociobiology is closely allied to Darwinian anthropology, human behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology.
Computer science is the study of processes that interact with data and that can be represented as data in the form of programs. It enables the use of algorithms to manipulate, store, and communicate digital information. A computer scientist studies the theory of computation and the practice of designing software systems.
Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological structure from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations – that is, the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection in human evolution. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Some evolutionary psychologists apply the same thinking to psychology, arguing that the modularity of mind is similar to that of the body and with different modular adaptations serving different functions. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments.
An ancient model of the mind known as the Five-Aggregate Model, described in the Buddhist teachings, explains the mind as continuously changing sense impressions and mental phenomena.Considering this model, it is possible to understand that it is the constantly changing sense impressions and mental phenomena (i.e., the mind) that experiences/analyzes all external phenomena in the world as well as all internal phenomena including the body anatomy, the nervous system as well as the organ brain. This conceptualization leads to two levels of analyses: (i) analyses conducted from a third-person perspective on how the brain works, and (ii) analyzing the moment-to-moment manifestation of an individual’s mind-stream (analyses conducted from a first-person perspective). Considering the latter, the manifestation of the mind-stream is described as happening in every person all the time, even in a scientist who analyses various phenomena in the world, including analyzing and hypothesizing about the organ brain.
Philosophers David L. Robb and John F. Heil introduce mental causation in terms of the mind–body problem of interaction:
Mind–body interaction has a central place in our pretheoretic conception of agency. Indeed, mental causation often figures explicitly in formulations of the mind–body problem. Some philosophers insist that the very notion of psychological explanation turns on the intelligibility of mental causation. If your mind and its states, such as your beliefs and desires, were causally isolated from your bodily behavior, then what goes on in your mind could not explain what you do. If psychological explanation goes, so do the closely related notions of agency and moral responsibility. Clearly, a good deal rides on a satisfactory solution to the problem of mental causation [and] there is more than one way in which puzzles about the mind's "causal relevance" to behavior (and to the physical world more generally) can arise.
[René Descartes] set the agenda for subsequent discussions of the mind–body relation. According to Descartes, minds and bodies are distinct kinds of "substance". Bodies, he held, are spatially extended substances, incapable of feeling or thought; minds, in contrast, are unextended, thinking, feeling substances. If minds and bodies are radically different kinds of substance, however, it is not easy to see how they "could" causally interact. Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia puts it forcefully to him in a 1643 letter:how the human soul can determine the movement of the animal spirits in the body so as to perform voluntary acts—being as it is merely a conscious substance. For the determination of movement seems always to come about from the moving body's being propelled—to depend on the kind of impulse it gets from what sets it in motion, or again, on the nature and shape of this latter thing's surface. Now the first two conditions involve contact, and the third involves that the impelling thing has extension; but you utterly exclude extension from your notion of soul, and contact seems to me incompatible with a thing's being immaterial...
Elizabeth is expressing the prevailing mechanistic view as to how causation of bodies works. Causal relations countenanced by contemporary physics can take several forms, not all of which are of the push–pull variety.— David Robb and John Heil, "Mental Causation" in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Contemporary neurophilosopher Georg Northoff suggests that mental causation is compatible with classical formal and final causality.
Biologist, theoretical neuroscientist and philosopher, Walter J. Freeman, suggests that explaining mind–body interaction in terms of "circular causation" is more relevant than linear causation.
In neuroscience, much has been learned about correlations between brain activity and subjective, conscious experiences. Many suggest that neuroscience will ultimately explain consciousness: "...consciousness is a biological process that will eventually be explained in terms of molecular signaling pathways used by interacting populations of nerve cells..."However, this view has been criticized because consciousness has yet to be shown to be a process, and the "hard problem" of relating consciousness directly to brain activity remains elusive.
Cognitive science today gets increasingly interested in the embodiment of human perception, thinking, and action. Abstract information processing models are no longer accepted as satisfactory accounts of the human mind. Interest has shifted to interactions between the material human body and its surroundings and to the way in which such interactions shape the mind. Proponents of this approach have expressed the hope that it will ultimately dissolve the Cartesian divide between the immaterial mind and the material existence of human beings (Damasio, 1994; Gallagher, 2005). A topic that seems particularly promising for providing a bridge across the mind–body cleavage is the study of bodily actions, which are neither reflexive reactions to external stimuli nor indications of mental states, which have only arbitrary relationships to the motor features of the action (e.g., pressing a button for making a choice response). The shape, timing, and effects of such actions are inseparable from their meaning. One might say that they are loaded with mental content, which cannot be appreciated other than by studying their material features. Imitation, communicative gesturing, and tool use are examples of these kinds of actions.— Georg Goldenberg, "How the Mind Moves the Body: Lessons From Apraxia" in Oxford Handbook of Human Action
The neural correlates of consciousness "are the smallest set of brain mechanisms and events sufficient for some specific conscious feeling, as elemental as the color red or as complex as the sensual, mysterious, and primeval sensation evoked when looking at [a] jungle scene..."Neuroscientists use empirical approaches to discover neural correlates of subjective phenomena.
A science of consciousness must explain the exact relationship between subjective conscious mental states and brain states formed by electrochemical interactions in the body, the so-called hard problem of consciousness.Neurobiology studies the connection scientifically, as do neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry. Neurophilosophy is the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience and philosophy of mind. In this pursuit, neurophilosophers, such as Patricia Churchland, Paul Churchland and Daniel Dennett, have focused primarily on the body rather than the mind. In this context, neuronal correlates may be viewed as causing consciousness, where consciousness can be thought of as an undefined property that depends upon this complex, adaptive, and highly interconnected biological system. However, it's unknown if discovering and characterizing neural correlates may eventually provide a theory of consciousness that can explain the first-person experience of these "systems", and determine whether other systems of equal complexity lack such features.
The massive parallelism of neural networks allows redundant populations of neurons to mediate the same or similar percepts. Nonetheless, it is assumed that every subjective state will have associated neural correlates, which can be manipulated to artificially inhibit or induce the subject's experience of that conscious state. The growing ability of neuroscientists to manipulate neurons using methods from molecular biology in combination with optical toolswas achieved by the development of behavioral and organic models that are amenable to large-scale genomic analysis and manipulation. Non-human analysis such as this, in combination with imaging of the human brain, have contributed to a robust and increasingly predictive theoretical framework.
There are two common but distinct dimensions of the term consciousness,one involving arousal and states of consciousness and the other involving content of consciousness and conscious states. To be conscious of something, the brain must be in a relatively high state of arousal (sometimes called vigilance), whether awake or in REM sleep. Brain arousal level fluctuates in a circadian rhythm but these natural cycles may be influenced by lack of sleep, alcohol and other drugs, physical exertion, etc. Arousal can be measured behaviorally by the signal amplitude required to trigger a given reaction (for example, the sound level that causes a subject to turn and look toward the source). High arousal states involve conscious states that feature specific perceptual content, planning and recollection or even fantasy. Clinicians use scoring systems such as the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the level of arousal in patients with impaired states of consciousness such as the comatose state, the persistent vegetative state, and the minimally conscious state. Here, "state" refers to different amounts of externalized, physical consciousness: ranging from a total absence in coma, persistent vegetative state and general anesthesia, to a fluctuating, minimally conscious state, such as sleep walking and epileptic seizure.
Many nuclei with distinct chemical signatures in the thalamus, midbrain and pons must function for a subject to be in a sufficient state of brain arousal to experience anything at all. These nuclei therefore belong to the enabling factors for consciousness. Conversely it is likely that the specific content of any particular conscious sensation is mediated by particular neurons in the cortex and their associated satellite structures, including the amygdala, thalamus, claustrum and the basal ganglia.
The following is a very brief account of some contributions to the mind–body problem.
The Buddha (480–400 B.C.E), founder of Buddhism, described the mind and the body as depending on each other in a way that two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one anotherand taught that the world consists of mind and matter which work together, interdependently. Buddhist teachings describe the mind as manifesting from moment to moment, one thought moment at a time as a fast flowing stream. The components that make up the mind are known as the five aggregates (i.e., material form, feelings, perception, volition, and sensory consciousness), which arise and pass away continuously. The arising and passing of these aggregates in the present moment is described as being influenced by five causal laws: biological laws, psychological laws, physical laws, volitional laws, and universal laws. The Buddhist practice of mindfulness involves attending to this constantly changing mind-stream.
Ultimately, the Buddha's philosophy is that both mind and forms are conditionally arising qualities of an ever-changing universe in which, when nirvāna is attained, all phenomenal experience ceases to exist.According to the anattā doctrine of the Buddha, the conceptual self is a mere mental construct of an individual entity and is basically an impermanent illusion, sustained by form, sensation, perception, thought and consciousness. The Buddha argued that mentally clinging to any views will result in delusion and stress, since, according to the Buddha, a real self (conceptual self, being the basis of standpoints and views) cannot be found when the mind has clarity.
Plato (429–347 B.C.E.) believed that the material world is a shadow of a higher reality that consists of concepts he called Forms. According to Plato, objects in our everyday world "participate in" these Forms, which confer identity and meaning to material objects. For example, a circle drawn in the sand would be a circle only because it participates in the concept of an ideal circle that exists somewhere in the world of Forms. He argued that, as the body is from the material world, the soul is from the world of Forms and is thus immortal. He believed the soul was temporarily united with the body and would only be separated at death, when it would return to the world of Forms. Since the soul does not exist in time and space, as the body does, it can access universal truths. For Plato, ideas (or Forms) are the true reality, and are experienced by the soul. 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 essentially rationalistic epistemology.[ citation needed ]
For Aristotle (384–322 BC) mind is a faculty of the soul.Regarding the soul, he said:
It is not necessary to ask whether soul and body are one, just as it is not necessary to ask whether the wax and its shape are one, nor generally whether the matter of each thing and that of which it is the matter are one. For even if one and being are spoken of in several ways, what is properly so spoken of is the actuality.— De Anima ii 1, 412b6–9
In the end, Aristotle saw the relation between soul and body as uncomplicated, in the same way that it is uncomplicated that a cubical shape is a property of a toy building block. The soul is a property exhibited by the body, one among many. Moreover, Aristotle proposed that when the body perishes, so does the soul, just as the shape of a building block disappears with destruction of the block.
In religious philosophy of Eastern monotheism, dualism denotes a binary opposition of an idea that contains two essential parts. The first formal concept of a "mind-body" split may be found in the "divinity - secularity" dualism of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism around the mid-fifth century BC. Gnosticism is a modern name for a variety of ancient dualistic ideas inspired by Judaism popular in the first and second century AD. These ideas later seem to have been incorporated into Galen's "tripartite soul"that led into both the Christian sentiments expressed in the later Augustinian theodicy and Avicenna’s Platonism in Islamic Philosophy.
Like Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) believed that the mind and the body are one, like the seal and the wax are one, and it is therefore pointless to ask whether they are one. However, (referring to "mind" as "the soul") he asserted that the soul persists after the death of the body in spite of their unity, calling the soul "this particular thing". Since his view was primarily theological rather than philosophical, it is impossible to fit it neatly within either the category of physicalist or dualist.
René Descartes (1596–1650) believed that mind exerted control over the brain via the pineal gland:
My view is that this gland is the principal seat of the soul, and the place in which all our thoughts are formed.— René Descartes, Treatise of Man
[The] mechanism of our body is so constructed that simply by this gland's being moved in any way by the soul or by any other cause, it drives the surrounding spirits towards the pores of the brain, which direct them through the nerves to the muscles; and in this way the gland makes the spirits move the limbs.— René Descartes, Passions of the Soul
His posited relation between mind and body is called Cartesian dualism or substance dualism. He held that mind was distinct from matter, but could influence matter. How such an interaction could be exerted remains a contentious issue.
For Kant (1724–1804) beyond mind and matter there exists a world of a priori forms, which are seen as necessary preconditions for understanding. Some of these forms, space and time being examples, today seem to be pre-programmed in the brain.
...whatever it is that impinges on us from the mind-independent world does not come located in a spatial or a temporal matrix,...The mind has two pure forms of intuition built into it to allow it to... organize this 'manifold of raw intuition'.— Andrew Brook, Kant's view of the mind and consciousness of self: Transcendental aesthetic
Kant views the mind–body interaction as taking place through forces that may be of different kinds for mind and body.
For Huxley (1825–1895) the conscious mind was a by-product of the brain that has no influence upon the brain, a so-called epiphenomenon.
On the epiphenomenalist view, mental events play no causal role. Huxley, who held the view, compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of a locomotive.— William Robinson, Epiphenomenalism
A. N. Whitehead advocated a sophisticated form of panpsychism that has been called by David Ray Griffin panexperientialism .
For Popper (1902–1994) there are three aspects of the mind–body problem: the worlds of matter, mind, and of the creations of the mind, such as mathematics. In his view, the third-world creations of the mind could be interpreted by the second-world mind and used to affect the first-world of matter. An example might be radio, an example of the interpretation of the third-world (Maxwell's electromagnetic theory) by the second-world mind to suggest modifications of the external first world.
The body–mind problem is the question of whether and how our thought processes in World 2 are bound up with brain events in World 1. ...I would argue that the first and oldest of these attempted solutions is the only one that deserves to be taken seriously [namely]: World 2 and World 1 interact, so that when someone reads a book or listens to a lecture, brain events occur that act upon the World 2 of the reader's or listener's thoughts; and conversely, when a mathematician follows a proof, his World 2 acts upon his brain and thus upon World 1. This, then, is the thesis of body–mind interaction.— Karl Popper, Notes of a realist on the body–mind problem
For Searle (b. 1932) the mind–body problem is a false dichotomy; that is, mind is a perfectly ordinary aspect of the brain. Searle proposed Biological naturalism in 1980.
According to Searle then, there is no more a mind–body problem than there is a macro–micro economics problem. They are different levels of description of the same set of phenomena. [...] But Searle is careful to maintain that the mental – the domain of qualitative experience and understanding – is autonomous and has no counterpart on the microlevel; any redescription of these macroscopic features amounts to a kind of evisceration, ...— Joshua Rust, John Searle
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."
Epiphenomenalism is a position on the mind–body problem which holds that physical and biochemical events within the human body are causal with respect to mental events. According to this view, subjective mental events are completely dependent for their existence on corresponding physical and biochemical events within the human body and themselves have no causal efficacy on physical events. The appearance that subjective mental states influence physical events is merely an illusion. For instance, fear seems to make the heart beat faster, but according to epiphenomenalism the biochemical secretions of the brain and nervous system —not the experience of fear—is what raises the heartbeat. Because mental events are a kind of overflow that cannot cause anything physical, yet have non-physical properties, epiphenomenalism is viewed as a form of property dualism.
The mind is the set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory, which is housed in the brain. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.
The soul, in many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls. For example, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas attributed "soul" (anima) to all organisms but argued that only human souls are immortal.
Thought encompasses an "aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion". Although thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans, there is still no consensus as to how it is adequately defined or understood.
Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.
Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes. It addresses the questions of how cognitive activities are affected or controlled by neural circuits in the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both neuroscience and psychology, overlapping with disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and affective neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience relies upon theories in cognitive science coupled with evidence from neurobiology, and computational modeling.
Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.
Eliminative materialism is the claim that people's common-sense understanding of the mind is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. It is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Some supporters of eliminativism argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level. Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.
The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why sentient organisms have qualia or phenomenal experiences—how and why it is that some internal states are felt states, such as heat or pain, rather than unfelt states, as in a thermostat or a toaster. The philosopher David Chalmers, who introduced the term "hard problem" of consciousness, contrasts this with the "easy problems" of explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, and so forth. Easy problems are easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomena. Chalmers claims that the problem of experience is distinct from this set and will "persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained".
Physical causal closure is a metaphysical theory about the nature of causation in the physical realm with significant ramifications in the study of metaphysics and the mind. In a strongly stated version, physical causal closure says that "all physical states have pure physical causes" — Jaegwon Kim, or that "physical effects have only physical causes" — Agustin Vincente, p. 150.
The problem of mental causation is a conceptual issue in the philosophy of mind. That problem, in short, is how to account for the common-sense idea that intentional thoughts or intentional mental states are causes of intentional actions. The problem divides into several distinct sub-problems, including the problem of causal exclusion, the problem of anomalism, and the problem of externalism. However, the sub-problem which has attracted most attention in the philosophical literature is arguably the exclusion problem.
Paul Montgomery Churchland is a Canadian philosopher known for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh under Wilfrid Sellars (1969), Churchland rose to the rank of full professor at the University of Manitoba before accepting the Valtz Family Endowed Chair in Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and a joint appointments in that institution's Institute for Neural Computation and on its Cognitive Science Faculty.
Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.
Animal consciousness, or animal awareness, is the quality or state of self-awareness within an animal, or of being aware of an external object or something within itself. In humans, consciousness has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, qualia, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.
Interactionism or interactionist dualism is the theory in the philosophy of mind which holds that matter and mind are two distinct and independent substances that exert causal effects on one another. It is one type of dualism, traditionally a type of substance dualism though more recently also sometimes a form of property dualism.
Consciousness after death is a common theme in society and culture in the context of life after death. Scientific research has established that the mind and consciousness are closely connected with the physiological functioning of the brain, the cessation of which defines brain death. However, many believe in some form of life after death, which is a feature of many religions.
Dualism in Indian philosophy refers to the belief held by certain schools of Indian philosophy that reality is fundamentally composed of two parts. This mainly takes the form of either mind-matter dualism in Buddhist philosophy or consciousness-matter dualism in the Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy. These can be contrasted with mind-body dualism in Western philosophy of mind, but also have similarities with it.
The study of the mind in Eastern philosophy has parallels to the Western study of the Philosophy of mind as a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind. Dualism and monism are the two central schools of thought on the mind–body problem in the Western tradition, although nuanced views have arisen that do not fit one or the other category neatly. Dualism is found in both Eastern and Western traditions but its entry into Western philosophy was thanks to René Descartes in the 17th century. This article on mind in eastern philosophy deals with this subject from the standpoint of eastern philosophy which is historically strongly separated from the Western tradition and its approach to the Western philosophy of mind.
The real distinction of mind and body based on their completely diverse natures is the root of the famous mind-body problem: how can these two substances with completely different natures causally interact so as to give rise to a human being capable of having voluntary bodily motions and sensations?Cite uses deprecated parameter
...a rejection of any dualism between mind and body, and a consequent insistence on the argument that the body is never simply a physical object but always an embodiment of consciousness.
The restriction of causality to 'efficient causality' lead to the neglect of 'goal-orientation' since it was no longer necessary within [that] framework. Not considering 'goal-orientation' resulted in the neglect of 'embedment' and the consequential presupposition of 'isolation' with separation between brain, body, and environment. Neglecting 'embedment' lead to the equation of perception/action with sensory impression/movement which could be well accounted for by 'efficient causality'. Accordingly, since dominated by 'efficient causality', qualia and intentionality, as related to perception/action rather than to sensory impression/movement, were excluded from science and consequently regarded [as] purely philosophical problems. Analogous to 'final causes', 'formal causes' were eliminated as well. 'Efficient causality' is not compatible with 'embedded coding' [which] is necessarily tied with 'formal causality' and 'final causality'... Finally, the possibility of mental causation remains incompatible with 'efficient causality'. It can, however, be properly described by 'formal and final causality'.
Walter Freeman, with his usual originality, suggest that we may be looking at the whole thing in completely the wrong way when we ask whether consciousness causes or is caused by neural activity. He suggests that circular causation is a more relevant concept in this regard than linear causation. Consciousness and neural activity are certainly interdependent, but it is impossible in principle to say that either causes the other. Thus the whole concept of consciousness as agent is simply a misreading of the true situation.Through my readings in physics and philosophy, I learned the concept of circular causality, which invokes hierarchical interactions of immense numbers of semiautonomous elements such as neurons, which form nonlinear systems. These exchanges lead to the formation of macroscopic population dynamics that shapes the pattern of activity of the contributing individuals. Circular causality departs so strongly from the classical tenets of necessity, invariance, and precise temporal order that the only reason to call it that is to satisfy the human habitual need for causes. The most subtle shift is the disappearance of agency, which is equivalent to loss of Aristotle's efficient cause. The very strong appeal of agency to explain events may come from the subjective experience of cause and effect that develops early in human life, before the acquisition of language .the question I raise here is whether brains share this property with other material objects in the world. The answer I propose is that assignment of cause and effect to one's self and to others having self-awareness is entirely appropriate, but that investing insensate objects with causation is comparable to investing them with teleology and soul. The further question is: Does it matter whether or not causality is assigned to objects? The answer is "Very much." Several examples are given of scientific errors attributed to thinking in terms of linear causality. The most important, with wide ramifications, is the assumption of universal determinacy, by which the causes of human behavior are limited to environmental and genetic factors, and the causal power of self-determination is excluded from scientific consideration.
Brain-Wise is the sequel to Patricia Smith Churchland's Neurophilosophy, the book that launched a sub-field. In a clear, conversational manner, this text examines old questions about the nature of the mind within the new framework of the brain sciences. What, it asks, is the neurobiological basis of consciousness, the self, and free choice?
Neurophilosophy is a rich interdisciplinary study of the prospects for a unified cognitive neurobiology. Contemporary research in the empirical neurosciences, and recent research in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science, are used to illuminate fundamental questions concerning the relation between abstract cognitive theory and substantive neuroscience.
In what follows, we shall explore contemporary issues in the nature of consciousness itself, the fortunes of nonreductive materialism (specifically, functionalism) in the philosophy of mind, the neuronal basis of our moral knowledge, the future of our moral consciousness, the roles of science and religion in our public schools, the proper cognitive kinematics for the epistemology of the twenty-first century, the basic nature of intelligence, the proper semantic theory for the representational states of terrestrial brains generally, the fortunes of scientific realism, recent arguments against the identity theory of the mind–brain relation, the fundamental differences between digital computers and biological brains, the neuronal basis of our subjective color qualia, the existence of novel – indeed, 'impossible' – color qualia, and the resurrection of objective colors from mere 'secondary' properties to real and important features of physical surfaces. What unites these scattered concerns is, once more, that they are all addressed from the standpoint of the emerging discipline of cognitive neurobiology. The exercise, as a whole, is thus a test of that discipline's systematic relevance to a broad spectrum of traditional philosophical issues.
This book revises the traditional view of consciousness by claiming that Cartesianism and Descartes' dualism of mind and body should be replaced with theories from the realms of neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence. What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but 'multiple drafts' of reality composed by a computer-like 'virtual machine'. Dennett considers how consciousness could have evolved in human beings and confronts the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures.
Combining ideas from philosophy, artificial intelligence, and neurobiology, Daniel Dennett leads the reader on a fascinating journey of inquiry, exploring such intriguing possibilities as: Can any of us really know what is going on in someone else's mind? What distinguishes the human mind from the minds of animals, especially those capable of complex behavior? If such animals, for instance, were magically given the power of language, would their communities evolve an intelligence as subtly discriminating as ours? Will robots, once they have been endowed with sensory systems like those that provide us with experience, ever exhibit the particular traits long thought to distinguish the human mind, including the ability to think about thinking? Dennett addresses these questions from an evolutionary perspective. Beginning with the macromolecules of DNA and RNA, the author shows how, step-by-step, animal life moved from the simple ability to respond to frequently recurring environmental conditions to much more powerful ways of beating the odds, ways of using patterns of past experience to predict the future in never-before-encountered situations.
The body–mind relationship...includes the problem of man's position in the physical world...'World 1'. The world of conscious human processes I shall call 'World 2', and the world of the objective creations of the human mind I shall call 'World 3'.
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