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The main goal of this assignment is to analyze the belief that the dualists hold about the difference that exists between the body and mind. In this part of the paper, I will comprehensively critique the “Difference Argument” from a personal point of view. The paper goes ahead to expound two theories associated with dualism; this objection to dualism theories includes the problem of other minds and the mysterious connection objection. The subsequent move will involve a deeper insight into the problems of other minds by the use of arguments that best explain this phenomenon. In the last part of the assignment, I will explain the mind-brain theory taking into account of the issue whether this identity theory faces the same problems as faced by dualists. The major point of reference will be Smart’s literature provided. It is also wise to note that these explanations will include a review describing the reasons as to why the identity theorists try so hard to undermine the difference argument.
The Theory of Dualism and the Mind-Brain Identity Theory
The typical argument in dualism is the ‘Difference Argument” which is solely based upon the fundamentals of dualism. The fundamentals of dualism take into account the radical difference that differentiates mind and matter. These dualists vehemently refute the report that the mind is always similar as the brain of any given person bearing it. Some of them even go a notch further to refute the claim that the mind is actually the product of the brain. Amongst the dualists does exist a sub-group called substance dualists who believe that the mind and the body are actually two different matters that are composed of totally different substances. They also emphasize the fact that the mind is perceived as a thinking matter that usually lacks the capabilities needed to differentiate physical objects, that is, there size, location and solidity.
Looking further into substance theorem, even further sub-groups can be found. They are represented by interactionists, who believe that the mind affects the activity of the body while the body in return does the same thing to the mind, that is, they constantly influence one another. The other sub-groups, the occassionists and parallelists, are entirely focused on preserving the integrity that is attributed to physical science in that they vehemently deny the fact that the mind and the body affect one another. Instead, they associate all the happenings to God. Epiphenomenalists, on the other hand, offer appeasement assertions that specify the fact that bodily occurrences can have mental effects as actual events while the mental events can never have bodily events as actual events. The property dualists, which are also a sub-group, argue that the mind state is usually an irreducible condition in a brain so that mental occurrences are defined as intangible properties of all physical substances altogether.
All in all, occassionists believe that there is no way in which the body and the mind can affect one another. In fact, the body and mind work separately so that none actually knows what the other is doing altogether. The mind is described as a thinking matter which is locked inside the body, and it is out of its inquisitive nature to question whatever is undergoing outside its locality. It constantly uses a separate unit to try and understand the conditions that are actually happening in the outside: an area that has limited its jurisdiction. It is therefore, wise to comprehend that unless otherwise, the mind and the body will continue to be two different entities working in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
In the theory of “problem of other minds”, the problem arises when individuals try to prove the dualist theory wrong. This phenomenon argues that when it becomes so difficult to observe the mind publicly then the only option to be considered in order to prove the existence of other beings is by taking note of the behavior of other persons. As much as it is extremely weak to generalize the existence of a brain by observing other individuals, with dualism it is true to stipulate that people cannot know for sure whether other people have minds at all, and since human beings rely so much on common sense then it has become so hard to believe that dualism is actually true at all. In the “mysterious connection objection” theory, it is believed that, despite the differences which arise in operations of both mind and body, there is always an un-explainable connecting device which has been given the task of facilitating the activities of both the mind and the soul.
It is almost impossible to explain this phenomenon, but one thing for sure is that the body and the mind do actually convey messages whenever an activity is involved. For instance, when a person hits himself with a hammer on his toe, the physical happening triggers a reaction that warns the mind that there has been a severe repercussion - pain and, therefore, the mind tells the body what to do. That is, to take away the area of the toe that has been affected from the point of pain. Some of the dualists explain this phenomenon using the powers of a super human being which oversees all the control of the activities of both the brain and the body.
It is true that the dualists have always been on the forefront advocating for an explanation of the “problem of other minds” presenting an argument that has been widely studied. This phenomenon argues that one self is the only existence that can be perceived and verified altogether without the need for further proof. It is argued that efforts made to prove the existence of other human beings are completely out of a person’s capability, since it is never quite clear to generalize that which people see are actually people, and if they are indeed people then it would be wrong to conceptualize that they do actually possess the brain that an individual has.
To say that another person possesses a brain which is functioning and operational is to state that people think the same thing. However, when the mental state is categorized and made to be performing in terms of its surrounding behavior or under a certain physiological stratum then it can be argued that others have mental status that are entirely based on the observable features perceived physically.
This phenomenon then acts to increase the doubt concerning other selves. Since the existence of other minds cannot be easily determined, this, of course, is out of the fact that minds lack the physical observable feature that makes matter perceivable, the existence proof of other minds is, therefore, made when people are able to perceive the different behavioral patterns which are linked to other individuals.
The step taken to refer to the existence of other brains using the behavioral patterns of individuals is somehow a controversial issue, since the efforts to reduce the mental behavior to some form of behavior are actually demeaning and generalized. Although this generalization has been considered successful, the idea that the brain is a conscious matter while the body is refuted to lack this ability is itself a subject that has continued to evoke controversies especially with the identity theorists.
An example of two painters is given, one of them with vast experience and the other with none at all. This makes one of them conscious while the other not at all. Despite the differences in their expertise all of them will possess an identical neural activity: both of them will insist that they are able to see the different colors as used in the paintings and, therefore, refute the possibility of them being blind. It is also true that if both of them are asked to point out a blue painting, they would do so without hesitation, yet only one of them possesses the experience This example sometimes brings forth the controversial aspect of materialist theorists who cannot be completely sure of the other minds possessing qualitative kind of experience. “The problem of other minds” theory under this example comes out strongly as a major offender to the use of common sense as compared to other forms of theories especially materialists theory.
The problem of other minds is, therefore, concerned with explaining the underlying phenomenon that strives to prove that it is entirely baseless to associate self-existence to other people’s existence. It will be completely groundless to argue on the basis that since one possesses both the ability and capability to think then all other individuals that are perceived by the very same mind do the same. Generalization of existence is something that should not be determined by the very common sense r If.
The mind-brain identity theory refers to the theory that attests the identification of the mental conditions or rather phenomenon with the brain status. Mind-brain theory also reverbs that every mental state that exists within any given phenomenon has its subsequent identical brain state. The major support for mind-brain identity theory is the observable fact associated with area specification in which mental events are entirely dependent upon specific localities within the brain so that any inhibiting brain activity is further withdrawn from the mental activities within. This phenomenon is used to confirm that the brain is actually the mind.
When most of the philosophers argue that individual experiences are brain processes that possess the non-physical, physical and properties (qualia), identity theory, on the other hand, refutes the existence of such unaffected non-physical properties. For easier comprehension of this theory, the statement “this chair is an old packing case” will be analyzed in a manner that will bring out the differences as portrayed earlier. In the statement above, it will be quite illogical to pin out that “this chair” is the same thing as “ this old packing case” since the features used to determine a chair are completely different from the ones which are used in determining an “old packing case”. However, the difference does not play a more significant part in preventing the chair from being identical to the old packing case.
It, therefore, should be mentioned that the mind-brain identity theory does not face the problems of the dualism theory. This is because, unlike the dualism theory, the mind-brain identity theory tries to solve the problem discovered by Descartes. It solves the aforementioned challenge by making sure that the mental territory is reduced significantly to the physical aspect of it by assuming that the mental status created are always in agreement with the physicality of all phenomena so that each and every mental condition is attributed to a particular brain activity. It is also associated with stipulating the empirical investigations that concern the mind and the mid-brain correlations.
According to Smart (1959), the identity theory as explained by the dualists suggests that science has now been the reference point upon which sensations are attributed.
He says “Why do I wish to resist this suggestion? Mainly because of Occam’s razor. It seems to me that science is increasingly giving us a viewpoint whereby organisms are able to be seen as physic chemical mechanisms” (Smart, 1959, p.1)
He also argues that the behavior of man will in the future be viewed in mechanistic terms. He further argues that there will be no way something could be correlated with itself. This is to say, the brain activity can in no way be correlated with sensations that happen afterwards.
In order to explain the thesis that that sensations are actually brain processes, Smart (1959) uses the illustration of an after image which signifies the same as the brain process labeled, let’s say, X, which is later replaced by a portrayal of a certain sort of brain processes. This thesis concludes that sensation statements can never be translated to mean brain process of any kind nor does it support the claim that sensations are similar to brain processes whatsoever.
The author goes further to expound on the issue of identity using different objectives that are taken to mean different things. In the first objection, he talks of an illiterate man who is able to talk well about these after images or how things are perceived physically, yet being entirely limited in knowledge to understand anything about the study of images. In this objection, it should be noted that the identity of a matter might be taken to mean different things, yet, in the long, run they appear to be a correlation between the two things.
For instance, the term “the evening star” has always been used to pick out the first celestial body that is always visible during the night while the morning star refers to the term used to name the last celestial body perceived during the late hours of the morning. At the time, people never understood that it did actually mean planet Venus (Smart, 1959).
In another objective, Smart(1959) continues to argue that even though there is a correlation between the flash and the lightning, the after image made out of it is not in physical space while brain processes are present in physical space. This argument clearly indicates the difference that identity theory poses on both sensations and brain process.
Another difference that arises out of the aforementioned distinction is the fact that sensations are always private while brain processes are public in nature. For instance, it will be right to point out the color of an image, but it will be completely wrong to define a brain process since with sensations there is an element of physicality involved while, in differentiating brain, its processes are never perceived and, therefore, contain no explanations or rather descriptions of how they should look like. In addition to the above argument, the fact that two scientists might have the capabilities to view and analyze the brains of a man, the difference will arise when the two scientists report two different occurrences which they had experienced while undertaking the analyzing process. Smart (1959, p.7) says
“If I say sincerely say, "I see a yellowish-orange after-image" and I am not making a verbal mistake, then I cannot be wrong. But I can be wrong about a brain-process. The scientist looking into my brain might be having an illusion. Moreover, it makes sense to say that two or more people are observing the same brain process but not that two or more people are reporting the same inner experience”
In conclusion, it will be relatively clear to note that although there is t two things that are almost similar, the fact that the differences in identity are possible can never be overruled thereby putting a limit into generalization of substances.