Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is The Mind Material Or Immaterial?

I will argue that the mind is immaterial based on lots of arguments. I have discussed evidence before for dualism.

First by the introspection argument

The Argument from Introspection

"A more universal consideration is the argument from introspection. The fact is, when you center your attention on the contents of your consciousness, you do not clearly apprehend a neural network pulsing with electrochemical activity: you apprehend a flux of thoughts, sensations, desires, and emotions. It seems that mental states and properties, as revealed in introspection, could hardly be more different from physical states and properties if they tried. The verdict of introspection, therefore, seems strongly on the side of some form of dualism"

Another argument for dualism is the premise that we have privileged access to our mental states.

the premise that you have a special ways of knowing about your own mental states. This knowledge is not usually based on any evidence or observation. You can just tell that you're thinking about elephants. You don't have to infer it from any evidence. But other people do have to infer what you're thinking, from your behavior and from what you say. So you're in a better position to know what you're thinking than they are. You have a kind of special or privileged access to your mental states which other people lack.

You don't have any privileged access of that sort to your height or weight or shoe size. In principle, other people could be in a better position to know your height than you are.

Most philosophers will agree that we do have some kind of privileged access to our own mental states, even if it is difficult to spell that claim out in detail.

But some philosophers go further and argue that the only way we can explain or account for this privileged access is if facts about your mind are facts about what's happening in some private non-physical realm. Physical objects and their physical properties, on the other hand, are all publicly accessible. Other people can know more about your height, and your weight, and the physical state of your brain, than you know. So if your mental states were just physical states of some sort, like neurophysiological states of your brain, then that would make your mental states all publicly accessible.

Other arguments for dualism are discussed here by philosopher Edward Feser


Zetetic_chick said...

Hi Leo,

Some arguments for dualism (and against physicalism) are analyzed in this paper by philosopher Uwe Meixner:

By the way, I read Feser's book "Philosophy of Mind". It's the best introduction to this field I've ever read. Even thought Feser is a dualist, he presents all the positions and criticisms in a very objetive, unbiased, rigurous and charitable way, enabling the readers to draw their own conclusions. A must read!

Another book I recommend is "The mind and the brain" by Jeffrey Scwartz. It discusses some iteresting topics on consciousness and neuroscience.

Happy new year to you and all your readers!!!


Thoughts said...

My own favourite on the philosophy and neuroscience of mind is the Wikibook on the subject:

Dualism is also a physical problem as well as a problem in philosophy of mind - see:

Reckless Divinity said...

What I have always wondered is when one supports dualism, one never explains its origins in terms of evolution. Could you possibly share your theory on how dualism may have emerged in organisms through evolution, a material process?