A Discussion on Rene Descartes' Theory on the Mind-Body Problem

The Mind-Body Problem

The topic of the mind-body problem starts with a well-known philosopher, Rene Descartes. Descartes proposes a theory with which many psychologists agree with also is the view known as common sense. Descartes answers no to the question, “Are we simply very complex parts of the physical world?” (Perry 239). Descartes explains that the mind is not part of the physical world at all. A continued explanation would be that physical things take up space, while our minds do not take up space.

Descartes explains in his writing, Meditations II that he does not doubt the existence of his mind but he doubts the existence of the physical world.

In the writings of Meditation VI, he concludes that there is a physical world and physical things have extensions. Descartes believes, that “the essence of our minds is the consciousness of rather than extension” (Perry 239). Therefore this means that therenoenot ways that thoughts can take up space or be extended. An example of this theory is thinking of a specific place, or feeling sad are ways of being conscious not ways of taking up space.

Descartes’s theory to answer the question of, how is the material world connected with immaterial minds, is that there is a two-way causal interaction between the two. Descartes’s theory of dualism is illustrated in the way that the physical world affects a person’s mind. For example, light rays can bounce off a magazine, enter the eye, and cause changes in the nervous system in which the state of the brain directly affects the mind.

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The other casual interaction is that the states of mind affect the body through the world around the person. An example would be the intention to eat a sandwich which includes the mental state involving the sandwich, which in turn,n affects the brain that affects the muscles to move the arm in a certain way to grab the sandwich. Descartes’ basic conception of the immaterial linked link casually to material bodies proved to be sufficient.

Many other philosophers objected to Descartes’ theories on the mind-body problem which are relevant to the topic of the mind-body problem. A philosopher named George Berkley believed that there are not minds and bodies, but only minds. In the chapter Minds, Bodies and Persons, the author states that “Berkley maintained that to talk about tables and chairs seems to talk only about non-minds but are a complex way of talking about minds and their ideas” (Perry 241). Other theories that are relevant to the subject of the mind-body problem are proposed by different philosophers. David M. Armstrong wrote in the essay The Nature of Mind, “there is nothing in our concept of mental states that precludes there turning out to be physical states” (Perry 242). Armstrong believes that with the progress of science, physical causes have been found in a wider circle of phenomena which makes a probable cause of such behavior physical. In conclusion, the mind is the brain, although Descartes believed his mind existed without his brain.

Daniel Dennett another philosopher who had an alternative to Descartes’ dualistic view believed, that “to have a mind is at least in part to be an intentional system” (Perry 242). An intentional system is explained to be something that someone is trying to explain and predict its behavior. In regards to the mind-body issue, something is taken as an intentional system in two ways which are either a design stance or a physical stance. Whichever stance is chosen, it is understothatod that it is the best pursuit for the explanation.

Another philosopher named Frank Jackson conducted a theory that was started by a hypothetical situation. A woman lives in a black and white room her whole life, and then one day leaves the room in which she sees a red object. Since thwomanmen have never seen color she learns about it, which Jackson says “is one that we have to postulate in addition to all physical facts; it is an irreducible fact about consciousness” (Perry 242).

Bertrand Russell expresses his thoughts on the mind-body problem in, The Argument from Analogy for Other Minds. Russell explains that the knowledge people obtain is based on a general principle which is Canaan logy. Further explanation of this is other bodies behave as our body does, so we (all human beings) may guess that other minds arecausalual principle. But a question of this is how can we infer that other minds exist from only having one case of oneself to so many other cases. Russell explains, “The problem with which we are concerned is that we observe in ourselves such occurrences as remembering, reasoning, feeling pleasure and feeling pain” (Perry 247). For example, humans think objects such as sticks and stones do not have feelings or remembering or reasoning but we think other people do. Russell states that it is obvious that people believe in others having minds, but it’s been determined that this must require a postulate that is not required in physics. Russell suggests what this postulate may be, “it is clear that we must appeal to something that may be vaguely called analogy. The behavior of other people is in many ways analogous to our own, and we suppose that it must have analogous causes” (Perry 247). People infer that other people think the same as them or have the same thoughts.

Russell explains in his theory that it is obvious to him that normal laws that instruct his behavior have something to do with his thoughts, that it is only natural to infer the same is correct for the analogous behavior of his friends. The inference which is the concerning topic is that feelings have causes that are known, this kind of inference is adequate in regards to physics. Assuming that people are knowledgeable, people are concerned with a more specific kind of inference which includes knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of others.

Arguments against this assumption include that this knowledge is doubtful or less doubtful. Also, people are “dreaming” that this occurrence is real. Another argument is the possibility of ingenious automata. An ingenious automaton is a clever inventive mechanical figure constructed to act as if it’s by its motive power. An example would be, “there are calculating machines that do sums much better than our schoolboy sons” (Perry 248). The difference between a robot and a human is the observable behavior; a noticeable trait in human behavior is a change in response to the stimulus. Although we know there is an obvious difference in behavior between humans and robots, Russell expresses that this does not prove that there are thoughts connected with living bodies other than my own” (Perry 248). Russell proposes a theory of a plan states that, that A is a thought which causes B, a physical occurrence. But tt times B can be observed without seeing any A. An example would be stating that I am hungry because I am, but hearing someone else say “I am hungry” would mean they are, and I am not. Russell states that we are supposed to know that A causes B, that in some cases A only causes B. But A is probable to cause B in other cases, and we can conclude that A will cause B. The postulate concluded in A causes B infers that there are other minds, as well as other inferences including common sense.

An argument to Russell’s position that analogy is a general principle on the mind-body problem could be that it is unnecessary to have to guess that other people have minds by a postulate. The argument would be that a postulate is not needed to determine that other people in the world have like-minds. Instead of using a postulate to assume that other people have minds, we can infer that all people have minds because we are all human beings so if I have a mind so should this other human being.

Gilbert Ryle expresses his ideas on the mind-body problem by explaining the problem of another mind when “If minds are immaterial, then, we cannot see or touch or otherwise perceive any mind but our mind, of which we seem to be directly aware of” (Perry 240). Ryle questions Descartes asking him, “How do we know that other bodies are really, as is our body, animated by minds at all?” (Perry 240). Ryle suggests that maybe one self’s mind is the only mind in the world and all the other people seem to like the self but all robots. Another problem stated is not only other minds but other bodies, even our own are in doubt. Questions such as how can we know that there are other minds in the other bodies that surround us are asked by Ryle.

Gilbert Ryle is a logical behaviorist who expresses his ideas in three ways. “The first move is from actual behavior to dispositions to behave” (Perry 241). An example would be that it is snowing so my disposition is to wear gloves and a hat if I want to go outside or to cancel a hair appointment if I do not want to get cold. “The second move is to couch the thesis in a linguistic form. It is not the crude thesis that mental events are behavioral events, but the more perceptive thesis that there are logical connections between behavioral descriptions and mental” (Perry 241). The third move is explained to be that the logical connections are determined complexes. To explain this more, people should not expect specific definitions of psychological terms in the behavioral language. There are two different linguistic systems for describing the same situation which are the talk of behavior and talk of the mind.

Ryle thinks that the idea of saying there is not a mind when it comes to a behavior or action is a category mistake. Ryle expresses that, “this one big mistake represents the facts of mental life as if they belonged to one logical type or category when they belong to another” (Perry 252). An example of this from the text is that a child is observing a march past a division that included battalions, batteries, and squadrons. Though the child was supposing that a division was a counterpart to the different units he had previously seen, and he would be corrected of his mistake that the march past was not a parade of battalions, batteries squadrons, and a division but it was a part of the battalions, batteries, squadrons of a division. Ryle explains that category mistakes are made by people who can understand certain concepts in situations they are familiar with but can still be accountable for understanding concepts with which they are not familiar. Further explanation of a category mistake would derive from the knowledge of the difference between human behaviors that are expressed as intelligent and are different than what we express as unintelligent. Therefore we must assume that there are different causes the intelligent and unintelligent behaviors.

An argument that can be made against Ryle’s position of logical behaviorism on the mind-body problem would be that it is unnecessary to study behavior to stimuli figure out the mind. For instance, our behaviors are induced by outside stimulus stimuli not are minds in particular. An example could be that it is winter and I walk outside so I feel cold, the behavior is that I am shivering due to the cold weather, the stimulus.

On the subject of the mind-body problem the position that I would take would be that the mind is part of the physical world. The mind is connected to the brain in which we determine how we think, breasonasoning, and remrememberhe the mind is part of the physical world because it induces physical acts. The mind is the brain in ch I would agree with philosopher David M. Armstrong that with science we have found that the mind is the brain. Armstrong states, “I think that the best clue we have to the nature of mind is furnished by the discoveries and hypotheses of modern science concerning the nature of man” (Perry 257). I believe that Armstrong’s theory is most plausible because there is a science to back up his theory, which makes it difficult to argue against. In conclusion, the mind is part of our physical world.

An objection to my position would be DescarteDescartes’sthat the mind is separate from the body. Gilbert Ryle expresses his thoughts on Descartes’ theory which includes, “With the doubtful exceptions of idiots and infants in arms every human being has both a body and a mind” (Perry 250). I would agree with Gilbert that every human does have a body and a mind, but it is said that after the death of the body the mind continues to function which would be an objection to what I originally argued. The thought of the mincontinuesng after the r death of the body would object to the idea that the mind is part of the physical world since it does not die with the body. Gilbert Ryle explains that human bodies are in space and are subject to mechanical laws when when when bodily processes can be observed externally by other people. The thought that minds are not in space and do not abide by mechanical laws objects to the idea that the mind is part of the physical world. Since we cannot see the actions of other minds we can assume that minds are not part of the physical world.

In response to the thought that minds are not part of the physical world, I could explain that for a physical action to occur we have to have a thought to do so. Therefore we can say that the mind is part of the body which is part of the physical world. Although we cannot see the mind in front of us, we know that it exists in which existence is physical.

In conclusion, the mind-body problem is introduced by philosopher Descarteswhoh who states the mind is separate from the body. There are alternative theories to object to Descartes’ theory in which David Armstrong expresses that the mind is part of the physical world due to scientific reasoning. Other theories explained by different philosophers such as Gilbert Ryle and Bertrand Russell make points that could object to Descartes’ theory.

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A Discussion on Rene Descartes' Theory on the Mind-Body Problem. (2022, Jun 17). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-discussion-on-rene-descartes-theory-on-the-mind-body-problem/

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