The historical perception of the distinction between the body and mind is traceable back to the Greek philosophers. In a close link to Rene Descartes’ theory (1650), the principal of philosophy claims that the human being compromises for the mind and body, which seem to be two distinct and separate substances.
On comparison, the mind does the thinking and thus is the source of reasoning, recognizing, desiring, consciousness and willpower, but it is distinctively immaterial and physically un-extendable. Conversely, the body is material and extendable to accommodate feelings and sensation. Many theories distinguish the body and mind but in most instances end-up creating the “mind-body problem,” thus the need for discussions or counterarguments.
“To think that the mind and the body are distinct substances creates problems, yet to think that they are the same offers no solution either.” This is a research investigating and analyzing the different arguments on philosophical nature of the mind and body by various philosophers, with the aim of providing a personal point of view regarding the subject matter.
The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the consequences and key concepts involved in the development of the mind-body philosophy and offer personal suggestions or opinions over the issue of relationship between the mind and body.
This term paper lays down the need for researching the background of the understanding of various theories over the relationship as presented by different great philosophers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, Leibnitz and, Mauriee Merleau-Ponty. The study is equally an assessment of other issues in relation to personal understanding of the topic.
The key topics to be covered entail the focus over relationship between the mind and the body. This is in the aim of finding the reasonable argument and conclusion
The paper highly utilizes the literature reviews to enable better understanding of the topic. Preparation of the research over the chosen topic also enhances and quantifies the research as a study topic and prepare for respondents.
Information collected will equally tabulate and assist in ranking the findings form various philosophers over a wide period, and help to narrow the scope to the objectives of the study analysis. The analysis will then draw the conclusion from generally analyzed data in the literature review.
The research findings will entail data collected through websites analysing the concerns of some philosophers, as well as books concern with the study area and, observation of the proceedings over the specified data collection period. For the study analysis, the collected data and studies discerns patterns and formulate principles that might guide future action of the study subject.
In this case-study of mind and body the research checks the background information, progress, surveillance and examination of current state of matter and the involvement with other related cases. The analysis of records regarding internal as well as external consequences is equally important.
Comparison of various philosophical points of views offers better understanding and analysis. This term paper will therefore attempt to find or describe aspects of the relationship between the mind and body as theories of various philosophers explain.
There are various theories explaining how the treatment of exceptional aspects fit into Descartes’ theory of material dualism, which forms a strong basis, ever the debate concerning the relationship between the body and the mind. The theory however lacks full explanation of the interaction or union, thus the tentative results.
Various other philosophers have emerged with different perspectives concerning the debate nullifying or supporting the possible facet of Descartes’ philosophy. There are many misconceptions between the union of the body and mind, and the general casual interaction among the Descartes’ readers. Recent philosophers have indicated a strong curious expression with regard to the substantiated unison or intermingling of the body and mind, indicating the theory as un-credential in comparison to other arguments.
A consideration of the interpretation for the first view indicates that an event or substance belongs to the interconnection because of the immediate casual effects the substance has on the mind.
The twenty first century philosophers as well as readers may disagree with Descartes theory out of curiosity or opposition to the dualist theory of the body and mind. The philosophy of mind provides phenomenal character in the line of thoughts that provides a wide range of mental events, which keep stringing the difference between the physical events and conscious experiences.
Ability to consider the face value of these striking differences calls for support or agreement with the dualism. Today the readers and researchers have some interest on the philosophy of dualism and thus the work of Descartes as the person who represented the tradition to modern philosophy.
The comparison of the two elements of life seems to be the conflict of the inquiry of whether the mind and the body are distinct substances, or they are the same. Arguably, his mind causes the mental state of affairs while body causes the physical state. Then the question is on the correspondence regarding the physical and mental state.
The proposal by Rene Descartes’ is a theory of interactions gets the reference with the intention of asserting that the two are distinct states, which interact by mutually influencing over each other as a result of the function of the pineal gland based in the brain (Moyal, 289, 1991). According to Moyal on the theory of Rene Descartes (290, 1990), the mutual gland seems to be the focal point of influence between mind and the body.
Scientifically the gland produces a solution: melatonin, which is an important neurotransmitter that assists to regulate sleep and forms part of the brain or body. From the scientific point of view, the Pineal gland is not a bridge between the mind and other special material objects, and therefore it is not a real solution to interaction between the body and mind.
Considering various philosophical principals of Descartes, there are many confusing claims regarding body and mind. The claims initially indicates that everything in the world is classifiable into two states namely, thinking and bodily substance.
People react by thinking through things and properties while the other side of living comprises of the body and its characteristics such as shape, size, motion or position. Where would we place the emotions, sensations or passions such as joy, sadness, love, pleasure, smell, taste and feeling? The categorization of the aspects fumbles people, making them to wonder how to classify certain features to the union between the mind and body.
Considering Descartes’ definition of substance, in the practicable sense, the substances do not depend on other substances. Although not clearly indicated in the specification that there exist two distinct types of substances into which all other aspects falls into, the Descartes tries to indirectly or implicitly indicate that certain quality or attribute requires a precise substance for existence.
For instance, in line with Moyal (293, 1991), this means that each substance exists within a principal attribute that constitute its essence with all the other properties of the substance referencing this attribute. For instance, imagination, sensation and, will are intelligible properties referencing the mind or thinking.
According to Descartes’ definitions of the relationships between mind and body, thinking entails understanding, and being in charge of what occurs within. Being aware of the occurrence offers the consideration of ability for existence of meaning, which is a strong indication that there is a connection between thinking and the sensory mechanism.
Considering John Locke argument regarding the body and mind, he conveys a constant idea that a human being comprise of the conscious mind and a memory, which can extend to reflect the past as a way of enhancing or finding the personal identity.
Through this argument, he does not imply that the human being has the ability to remember each and every minor detail of past experiences, but it means that ability to posses a personal identity can link the conscious understandings to physical state or appearance (Ashcraft, 220, 1991).
This is how the conscious mind joins the physical appearance of the body to come together and form the human experience of life. He places the mind and body as material substances, which come together to give one an experience nurturing human identity.
According to Ashcraft (221, 1991), on John Locke’s theory, the existence of two material substances in the same mental substance as explained by Rene Descartes is inexistence. He specifies that consciousness unite action in the same physical being. The memory and material experiences are similar in a human being, although it is possible to distinguish consciousness from thinking, such as in the instance of Rene Descartes’ insinuation.
In line with Ashcraft (221, 1991), considering Locke’s theory, “thinking, reflection, memory and, intelligence,” uniquely combine to form the human physique but this cannot occur without the presence of consciousness. Consciousness is therefore a unique attribute in each individual human being meaning that it is not possible to inherit or share another’s body or consciousness.
“There is a huge gap between subjective and objective experience,” (Ashcraft, 220, 1991). Ideally, the investigation pertain the relevance of the physical and mental connection in an individual or consciousness. The investigation of how well an objective processes to become subjective is still tentative among many philosophers.
According to Ashcraft (221, 1991), considering Locke’s theory, “subjectivity is the reality and immediacy of individual experience of consciousness, including memory and the capacity for reasoned reflection.” The outside world is independent of the mind. Real sensation comes from the presence of real objects.
In line with Locke, the world is made of two kinds of substances namely the soul and body. The body provides an immediate idea of the soul. People understand the bodies through sensation while understand the soul through reflection. Contemplation infests in the soul as material nourishments while the soul is immaterial. From this perception, there is formation of mental operations and spiritual souls.
Locke’s theory therefore supports the interaction between the body and the mind as real beings. All the ideas we posses are because of the actions of the body on the mind. This means that the body acts on the soul causing some changes. He argues out that people’s perception of existence lacks clarity over the reality of existing soul. They tend to be sure of the existing physical body and the soul.
The existence of the soul and its related actions is more realistic in nature than the material body. The reality of things regarding material bodies does not exist in the knowledge of the bodies we possess. The knowledge therefore comprises of secondary qualities lacking proper representation of reality (Ashcraft, 220, 1991).
The difficulty that Locke lacks solution for regards his perception of the effects on the bodies lacking interference on the mind or consciousness. His theory of representation, which indicates that people perceive the reality of mental images as a representation of the physical substances lacks substantiation.
Classification of attributes of life as matter or conscious entities is tricky but the reality is that essence of nature is consciousness regardless of its existence as matter or soul. His conclusion has commonsense attributing to existence of two substances namely mental and material. Material substances are the primary quantities as essentially active elements of matter and embodiments of the secondary qualities.
The connection between Locke and Descartes’ theories involves their conclusion over the existence of a third substance form the sense of experiences. The third matter is existence of consciousness as a fundamental premise from which the other aspects derive but remains an indistinct or hazy idea and thus remains enclosed in empirical attributes.
Considering Leibnitz thesis on mind and body, there is no body-mind interaction, but a formal relationship pertaining harmony, correspondence or parallelism. His contribution spans a number of topics of this philosophy mainly, materialism, interaction between the mind and body and idealism.
One of the conspicuous topics observes relationship between the body and mind where he denies existence of the interaction but ascertains a pre-established harmony. The earlier discussions of the seventeenth century over the connection between the mind and body spans a great context considered as dualism. This indicated that these are two distinct substances.
Leibnitz remains fundamentally opposed to the aspects of dualism indicating his perception of only one substance of life, thus the mind and body comprising of the same substance but metaphysically distinct. His metaphysical assumption is existence of a distinct substance from the body. Certain mental states may coordinate body states and vices versa. Considering Descartes’ perspective, there is an existence of interaction between the body and the mind.
According to Jolley (112, 2004), on Leibniz’s theory, no state can influence the other thus the technical denial of inter-substantiation. Every state of a substance emerges from an initial substance and its programming occurs at the initial stages during the creation to ensure conformity to natural states of the preceding events. This is the language of minds and body where the natural states occur in mutual coordination.
The reality of metaphysical relationship is the mutual conformity or coordination of mind and body, which seem to be the real casual relationship.
Substances may not casually interact, but their state accommodates each other in a way that implies existence of a casual interaction among them. Leibniz’s theory however conforms to existence of mental events, which influence bodily events. “One particular substance has no physical influence on another … nevertheless, one is quite right to say that my will is the cause of this movement of my arm.”
He continues to state that, “for the one expresses distinctly what the other expresses more confusedly, and one must ascribe the action to the substance whose expression is more distinct.” This is an explanation of what he explains to be metaphysical reality. Every existing substance is available to the entire universe but we only perceive a portion of it distinctly and the rest unconsciously, hence the confusion (Jolley, 112, 2005).
The argument is on existence of programmed substances, which are active or passive at the pertinent moment with incidence of real considerable relations. According to Leibniz’s theory, “nature of an individual substance or of a complete being is to have a notion that is sufficient to contain and to allow us to deduce from it all the predicates of the subject to which this notion is attributed.”
The problem with this theory is on the explanation of the complete concept theory where there seem to be an assumption pertaining lack of a genuine possibility over casual determination. His implication is on the existence of casual interaction between two beings, which requires transmission or transposition of the parts.
Evidently, Leibniz drew a parallel perception with respect to consciousness. However, he lacks clear distinction between conscious and unconscious vision. He initially has a clear care and uniformity to but his commitment lacks clear justification and perception. The Leibnizian theory only supports perception but at close range, there are fundamental divides between consciousness and unconsciousness.
He states, “Insensible perceptions are as important to [the science of minds, souls, and soul-like substances] as insensible corpuscles are to natural science, and it is just as unreasonable to reject the one as the other on the pretext that they are beyond the reach of our senses” (Jolley, 112, 2005).
Most philosophers illustrate the attitude that highly portrays rationalism as a problem on assumption that it ignores situations and nature of thoughts by indicating the world as a mere property of the reflecting mind. Merleau arguments on mind and body strongly reject this approach of rationalism/intellectualism.
Like Leibnitz, Merleau sets out his points to expose the problematic nature of dualism set by the traditional philosophers regarding the body and mind. He has a strong attention to the significance of the body in connection to the world, self and others.
This is a strong emphasis regarding the body’s ability to act independently rather than as influenced by other traits. He picks the problem of dualism in relation to the mind and body as a real problem, because when considering the body as an object links to consideration of the world as objective. Problems regarding the body are general to the whole outside world since it is entirely distinguishable from the philosophical area under discussion (Merleau-Ponty Maurice & Baldwin, 72, 2004).
Merleau criticizes the, philosophers who tend to ignore the situation regarding the delegation styles regarding contemplation. They disregard the world as an immanent property of a reflecting mind. This is illustrative of the traditional philosopher Descartes when he indicates that he is able to indentify people walking in the streets because of their ability to judge them as real men other than dressed ghosts or dummies.
He is able to understand through the sole power of judgement in the mind from what he believes to be passive (Merleau-Ponty Maurice & Baldwin, 10, 2004). This is a priority awarded to the mental above the physical state thus the support for dualism. This aspect lacks a touch over the problem of meaningful judgement.
Merleau refutes rationalism/intellectualism because of the implication of the cultural world as an illusion due to ignorance of the interconnection between the object and the act. Perception is not because of a single body organ but an act through relevant organs. From the philosophical point of view, Merleau lacks a simpler denial over the subjected cognitive relationship between the subject and object, but highly wishes to portray them as phenomenological primitive facts concerning body and mind.
“Empiricism cannot see that we need to know what we are looking for, otherwise we would not be looking for it, and intellectualism fails to see that we need to be ignorant of what we are looking for, or equally again we should not be searching” (Merleau-Ponty Maurice & Baldwin, 28, 2004). If the philosophers were able to constitute terms of duality relationally, then the philosopher would accept them since it would be a support to the “inter-individual world.”
Merleau would support the relation between subject and object through his suggestion that, “the demand for a pure description excludes equally the procedure of analytical reflection on the one hand, and that of scientific explanation on the other.” The discovery of the interior concerning the subject and object is achievable through avoidance of some of the earlier philosophical tendencies.
In close relation to Merleau-Ponty argument, today there are fundamental arguments forming divergence contained by the body, but indicate lack of thorough perception and subjectivity. If the embodied divergence causes the capacity for perception including language along with reflection, then similar divergence ensures that people are not able to overcome similar divergences entirely.
On a different perspective he indicates that people’s “reflection recuperates everything except itself as an effort of recuperation; it clarifies everything except its own role” (Merleau-Ponty Maurice & Baldwin, 72, 2004).
The counter arguments of dualism focus on quantum physics considering that consciousness and awareness has influence over body cells, which influence behaviour. The support upon consciousness as the key determinant of behaviour is an aspect that seems to sustain dualism where the action of the mind is determined by the consciousness, but end up blowing it up. This is for the reason that dualism argue for the existence of a soul and the value of freewill to accompany the soul.
Dualism supports that the mind works independently because in the cases of damage or alteration of its behaviour, awareness still detects functionality of the brain for instance, an altered personality due to illness. There need not to be any influence over awareness especially in distinction from the sensory organ. Awareness is different from memory or personality thus the fiction behind separation of awareness from the physical body.
Ashcraft, Richard. “John Locke: critical assessments, Volume 1.” Routledge Publishers.1991
Jolley, Nicholas. “Leibniz.” Routledge Publishers, 2005
Merleau-Ponty Maurice & Baldwin. “Merleau-Ponty: basic writings” Routledge Publishers.2004
Moyal, George. “Rene Descartes: Critical Assessments, Volume 1.” Routledge Publishers.1991