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The view on body and humans according to philosophers

Humans have or seem to have both physical properties and mental properties. People have or seem to have the sort of properties attributed in the physical sciences. These physical properties include size, weight, shape, colour, motion through space and time, etc. But they also have or seem to have mental properties, which we do not attribute to typical physical objects These properties involve consciousness including perceptual experience, emotional experience, and much elseintentionality including beliefs, desires, and much elseand they are possessed by a subject or a self.

Physical properties are public, in the sense that they are, in principle, equally observable by anyone. Some physical properties—like those of an electron—are not directly observable at all, but they are equally available to all, to the same degree, with scientific equipment and techniques. The same is not true of mental properties. I may be able to tell that you are in pain by your behaviour, but only you can feel it directly.

Similarly, you just know how something looks to you, and I can only surmise. Conscious mental events are private to the subject, who has a privileged access to them of a kind no-one has to the physical. The mind-body problem concerns the relationship between these two the view on body and humans according to philosophers of properties. The mind-body problem breaks down into a number of components. Is one class a subclass of the other, so that all mental states are physical, or vice versa?

Or are mental states and physical states entirely distinct? Do mental states influence physical states?

Different aspects of the mind-body problem arise for different aspects of the mental, such as consciousness, intentionality, the self. The problem of consciousness: How is it related to the brain and the body? The problem of intentionality: The problem of the self: Other aspects of the mind-body problem arise for aspects of the physical. The problem of embodiment: What is it for a body to belong to a particular subject?

  • However, many philosophers found it implausible to claim such things as the following; the pain that I have when you hit me, the visual sensations I have when I see the ferocious lion bearing down on me or the conscious sense of understanding I have when I hear your argument—all have nothing directly to do with the way I respond;
  • Some ability theorists seem to blur the distinction between knowing what something is like and knowing how to do something, by saying that the ability Harpo acquires is to imagine or remember the nature of sound;
  • Now it would be convenient to think that occasionalists held that all causation was natural except for that between mind and body.

The seemingly intractable nature of these problems have given rise to many different philosophical views. Materialist views say that, despite appearances to the contrary, mental states are just physical states. Behaviourism, functionalism, mind-brain identity theory and the computational theory of mind are examples of how materialists attempt to explain how this can be so. The most common factor in such theories is the attempt to explicate the nature of mind and consciousness in terms of their ability to directly or indirectly modify behaviour, but there are versions of materialism that try to tie the mental to the physical without explicitly explaining the mental in terms of its behaviour-modifying role.

Idealist views say that physical states are really mental. This is because the view on body and humans according to philosophers physical world is an empirical world and, as such, it is the intersubjective product of our collective experience. Dualist views the subject of this entry say that the mental and the physical are both real and neither can be assimilated to the other.

For the various forms that dualism can take and the associated problems, see below. In sum, we can say that there is a mind-body problem because both consciousness and thought, broadly construed, seem very different from anything physical and there is no convincing consensus on how to build a satisfactorily unified picture of creatures possessed of both a mind and a body.

In the classical and mediaeval periods, it was the intellect that was thought to be most obviously resistant to a materialistic account: The classical emphasis originates in Plato's Phaedo. Plato believed that the true substances are not physical bodies, which are ephemeral, but the eternal Forms of which bodies are imperfect copies. It is their connection with intelligibility that is relevant to the philosophy of mind.

Because Forms are the grounds of intelligibility, they are what the intellect must grasp in the process of understanding.

In Phaedo Plato presents a variety of arguments for the immortality of the soul, but the one that is relevant for our purposes is that the intellect is immaterial because Forms are immaterial and intellect must have an affinity with the Forms it apprehends 78b4—84b8. This affinity is so strong that the soul strives to leave the body in which it is imprisoned and to dwell in the realm of Forms.

  • I understand the mind to be indivisible by its very nature;
  • This is Foster's view, though I think Vendler 1984 and Madell 1981 have similar positions;
  • Here it should be noted that a difference in just any non-essential property would have only shown that mind and body are not exactly the same;
  • It has been claimed, however, that it faces serious problems some of which were anticipated in section 1;
  • His worries concerned the cramping effect that matter would have on the range of objects that intellect could accommodate;
  • There is no parallel clear, uncontroversial and regimented account of mental concepts as a whole that fails to invoke, explicitly or implicitly, physical e.

It may take many reincarnations before this is achieved. Plato's dualism is not, therefore, simply a doctrine in the philosophy of mind, but an integral part of his whole metaphysics.

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One problem with Plato's dualism was that, though he speaks of the soul as imprisoned in the body, there is no clear account of what binds a particular soul to a particular body.

Their difference in nature makes the union a mystery. Aristotle did not believe in Platonic Forms, existing independently of their instances. This enabled Aristotle to explain the union of body and soul by saying that the soul is the form of the body.

This means that a particular person's soul is no more than his nature as a human being. Because this seems to make the soul into a property of the body, it led many interpreters, both ancient and modern, to interpret his theory as materialistic.

The interpretation of Aristotle's philosophy of mind—and, indeed, of his whole doctrine of form—remains as live an issue today as it was immediately after his death Robinson 1983 and 1991; Nussbaum 1984; Rorty and Nussbaum, eds, 1992. Nevertheless, the text makes it clear that Aristotle believed that the intellect, though part of the soul, differs from other faculties in not having a bodily organ. His argument for this the view on body and humans according to philosophers a more tightly argued case than Plato's for the immateriality of thought and, hence, for a kind of dualism.

He argued that the intellect must be immaterial because if it were material it could not receive all forms. Just as the eye, because of its particular physical nature, is sensitive to light but not to sound, and the ear to sound and not to light, so, if the intellect were in a physical organ it could be sensitive only to a restricted range of physical things; but this is not the case, for we can think about any kind of material object De Anima III,4; 429a10—b9.

As it does not have a material organ, its activity must be essentially immaterial. It is common for modern Aristotelians, who otherwise have a high view of Aristotle's relevance to modern philosophy, to treat this argument as being of purely historical interest, and not essential to Aristotle's system as a whole.

Kenny 1989 argues that Aristotle's theory of mind as form gives him an account similar to Ryle 1949for it makes the soul equivalent to the dispositions possessed by a living body. These issues might seem to be of purely historical interest.

  1. Others think that such expressions are nonsensical.
  2. Mental states seem to have causal powers, but they also possess the mysterious property of intentionality—being about other things—including things like Zeus and the square root of minus one, which do not exist.
  3. Descartes then discusses the primitive notion of mind-body union. But if physical closure is true, there is no feature of the purely physical effect that is not contributed by the purely physical cause.
  4. It is this kind of feature that the mental event would have to cause, but physical closure leaves no room for this.
  5. For development of this point, see Green 2003 , 149—51. Let us assume that one rejects analytical behaviourist or functionalist accounts of mental predicates.

But we shall see in below, in section 4. The identification of form and substance is a feature of Aristotle's system that Aquinas effectively exploits in this context, identifying soul, intellect and form, and treating them as a substance.

See, for example, Aquinas 1912Part I, questions 75 and 76. But though the form and, hence, the intellect with which it is identical are the substance of the human person, they are not the person itself. The soul, though an immaterial substance, is the person only when united with its body.

Without the body, those aspects of its personal memory that depend on images which are held to be corporeal will be lost. See Aquinas 1912Part I, question 89. The more modern versions of dualism have their origin in Descartes' Meditations, and in the debate that was consequent upon Descartes' theory. Descartes was a substance dualist. He believed that there were two kinds of substance: Descartes' conception of the relation between mind and body was quite different from that held in the Aristotelian tradition.

For Aristotle, there is no exact science of matter. How matter behaves is essentially affected by the form that is in the view on body and humans according to philosophers. You cannot combine just any matter with any form—you cannot make a knife out of butter, nor a human being out of paper—so the nature of the matter is a necessary condition for the nature of the substance.

But the nature of the substance does not follow from the nature of its matter alone: Matter is a determinable made determinate by form. This was how Aristotle thought that he was able to explain the connection of soul to body: The belief in the relative indeterminacy of matter is one reason for Aristotle's rejection of atomism. If matter is atomic, then it is already a collection of determinate objects in its own right, and it becomes natural to regard the properties of macroscopic substances as mere summations of the natures of the atoms.

Although, unlike most of his fashionable contemporaries and immediate successors, Descartes was not an atomist, he was, like the others, a mechanist about the properties of matter. Bodies are machines that work according to their own laws. Except where there are minds interfering with it, matter proceeds deterministically, in its own right. Descartes opted for the pineal gland, mainly because it is not duplicated on both sides of the brain, so it is a candidate for having a unique, unifying function.

The main uncertainty that faced Descartes and his contemporaries, however, was not where interaction took place, but how two things so different as thought and extension could interact at all. This would be particularly mysterious if one had an impact view of causal interaction, as would anyone influenced by atomism, for whom the paradigm of causation is like two billiard balls cannoning off one another.

Various of Descartes' disciples, such as Arnold Geulincx and Nicholas Malebranche, concluded that all mind-body interactions required the direct intervention of God. The appropriate states of mind and body were only the occasions for such intervention, not real causes.

Now it would be convenient to think that occasionalists held that all causation was natural except for that between mind and body. In fact they generalized their conclusion and treated all causation as directly dependent on God.

Why this was so, we cannot discuss here.

Descartes' conception of a dualism of substances came under attack from the more radical empiricists, who found it difficult to attach sense to the concept of substance at all. Locke, as a moderate empiricist, accepted that there were both material and immaterial substances.

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Berkeley famously rejected material substance, because he rejected all existence outside the mind. Finally, he decided that the self, conceived as something over and above the ideas of which it was aware, was essential for an adequate understanding of the human person.

  1. If psychology cannot be reduced, this line of reasoning leads to real emergence for mental acts and hence to a real dualism for the properties those acts instantiate Robinson 2003. The bundle consists of the objects of awareness and the co-consciousness relation or relations that hold between them, and I think that the modern bundle theorist would want to say that it is the nexus of co-consciousness relations that constitutes our sense of the subject and of the act of awareness of the object.
  2. Yet, if the soul is recognized as merely a substantial form, while other such forms consist in the configuration and motion of parts, this very privileged status it has compared with other forms shows that its nature is quite different from theirs AT III 503.
  3. He might feel rather guiltily grateful that it was the other half that died.
  4. Why this was so, we cannot discuss here. The dualist must respond to any claim as it arises.
  5. One might think that for the person him or herself, while what makes that person that person underlies what is observable to others, it does not underlie what is experienceable by that person, but is given directly in their own self-awareness. How are acts of conceptualising, attending to or willing with respect to, such perceptual contents to be conceived?

Although the self and its acts are not presented to consciousness as objects of awareness, we are obliquely aware of them simply by dint of being active subjects. Hume rejected such claims, and proclaimed the self to be nothing more than a concatenation of its ephemeral contents.

  • This means that they, and the predicates special to them, depend on the existence of minds and mental states, for only minds have interest-relative perspectives;
  • How is it related to the brain and the body?
  • The laws linking mind and brain are what Feigl 1958 calls nomological danglers, that is, brute facts added onto the body of integrated physical law;
  • There are at least two lines of response to this popular but controversial argument;
  • I am the organism, the animal, which might not have developed to the point of consciousness, and that essence as animal is not revealed to me just by introspection;
  • For X to be a cause of Y, X must contribute something to Y.

In fact, Hume criticised the whole conception of substance for lacking in empirical content: This position has been labelled bundle dualism, and it is a special case of a general bundle theory of substance, according to which objects in general are just organised collections of properties.

The problem for the Humean is to explain what binds the elements in the bundle together. This is an issue for any kind of substance, but for material bodies the solution seems fairly straightforward: For the mind, mere causal connection is not enough; some further relation of co-consciousness is required.

We shall see in 5. One should note the following about Hume's theory.