The Mind-Body Problem

 

Or:

The Male-Female Problem

Musings created for The Goddess in the Machine

‘The mind-body problem is the problem: what is the relationship between mind and body? Or alternatively: what is the relationship between mental properties and physical properties?

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 else), intentionality (including beliefs, desires, and much else), and 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 sets of properties. The mind-body problem breaks down into a number of components.

  1. The ontological question: what are mental states and what are physical states? 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?
  2. The causal question: do physical states influence mental states? Do mental states influence physical states? If so, how?

Different aspects of the mind-body problem arise for different aspects of the mental, such as consciousness, intentionality, the self.

  1. The problem of consciousness: what is consciousness? How is it related to the brain and the body?
  2. The problem of intentionality: what is intentionality? How is it related to the brain and the body?
  3. The problem of the self: what is the self? How is it related to the brain and the body?

Other aspects of the mind-body problem arise for aspects of the physical. For example:

  1. The problem of embodiment: what is it for the mind to be housed in a body? What is it for a body to belong to a particular subject?

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. The latter are often grouped together under the label ‘non-reductive physicalism’, though this label is itself rendered elusive because of the controversial nature of the term ‘reduction’.

Idealist views say that physical states are really mental. This is because the 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. ‘

Or:

The Male-Female Problem

The male-femlae problem is the problem: what is the relationship between male and Female? Or alternatively: what is the relationship between male properties and  female properties?

Humans have (or seem to have) both male properties and female 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 else), intentionality (including beliefs, desires, and much else), and 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 male-female problem concerns the relationship between these two sets of properties. The male-female problem breaks down into a number of components.

  1. The ontological question: what are male states and what are female states? Is one class a subclass of the other, so that all female states are male, or vice versa? Or are female states and male states entirely distinct?
  2. The causal question: do female states influence male states? Do male states influence female states? If so, how?

Different aspects of the male-female problem arise for different aspects of the mental, such as consciousness, intentionality, the self.

  1. The problem of consciousness: what is consciousness? How is it related to the brain and the body?
  2. The problem of intentionality: what is intentionality? How is it related to the brain and the body?
  3. The problem of the self: what is the self? How is it related to the brain and the body?

Other aspects of the male-female problem arise for aspects of the physical. For example:

  1. The problem of embodiment: what is it for the mind to be housed in a body? What is it for a body to belong to a particular subject?

The seemingly intractable nature of these problems have given rise to many different philosophical views.

Materialist views say that, despite appearances to the contrary, female states are just male 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 female to the male without explicitly explaining the female in terms of its behavior-modifying role. The latter are often grouped together under the label ‘non-reductive physicalism’, though this label is itself rendered elusive because of the controversial nature of the term ‘reduction’.

Idealist views say that male states are really female. This is because the male 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 female and the male are both real and neither can be assimilated to the other……

Hello again…….hee hee hee

 

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