TOPIC: Mind Body Problem, Substance Dualism
TOPIC: Mind Body Problem, Substance Dualism. Short Essay Question: (90 marks) The Mind/Body problem involves the following two positions: Substance Dualism and Materialism. With reference to the course readings, provide a concise formulation of the Descartes’ Substance Dualism. With reference to the course readings, provide a concise formulation of Materialism. In particular, explain the distinction between Reductive Materialism and Eliminative materialism. In light of the criticisms, from the course readings, offered of both Substance Dualism and Materialism, which account is more plausible? Provide an argument in support of your conclusion. 2. Short Response Question: (10 marks) You should try to limit yourself to two or three paragraphs for this question. Review the course reading by David Hume on the problem of personal identity. Explain why Hume concludes that personal identity, or the notion of a self, is an illusion. Readings (Personal Identity) David Hume, excerpts from A treatise of human nature, Book One, Part 4, Section VI. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92t/B1.4.6.html Readings (Substance Dualism) René Descartes, excerpts from Meditations on the first philosophy, Meditation VI. http://www.wright.edu/cola/descartes/mede.html C. D. Broad, Chapter 3 The traditional problem of body and mind from The Mind and its place in nature http://www.ditext.com/broad/mpn3.htm
The Mind/Body problem concerns the relationship between mental states and physical states. Substance Dualism and Materialism are two philosophical positions that offer different explanations of this relationship. René Descartes’ Substance Dualism posits that there are two kinds of substances, mental and physical, which are fundamentally distinct. In his view, the mind or soul is a non-physical substance that interacts with the body, which is a physical substance. He argues that the mind and the body have different essential properties, and therefore cannot be identical. Descartes’ Substance Dualism is based on his famous claim that he can doubt everything except for the fact that he exists as a thinking thing.
Materialism, on the other hand, holds that only physical substances exist, and mental states are reducible to physical states. Reductive Materialism holds that mental states can be reduced to physical states, and ultimately, all mental phenomena can be explained by neuroscience. Eliminative Materialism, on the other hand, posits that mental states do not exist as we commonly understand them, and the language we use to describe mental states will eventually be eliminated from scientific discourse.
Critics of Substance Dualism argue that it faces the interaction problem, as it is difficult to explain how the non-physical mind can interact with the physical body. Critics of Materialism argue that it faces the problem of consciousness, as it is difficult to explain how physical states give rise to subjective experiences.
David Hume’s argument against personal identity, presented in A Treatise of Human Nature, is based on his theory of impressions and ideas. He argues that the self is not a simple and enduring substance, but rather a collection of constantly changing perceptions and impressions. He maintains that there is no underlying substance that unifies these perceptions, and that the idea of a continuous and enduring self is a result of our tendency to find unity and coherence in the flow of our experiences.
In conclusion, while Substance Dualism offers an explanation for the mind-body problem, it faces the criticism of the interaction problem. Materialism, on the other hand, faces the criticism of the problem of consciousness. Given these critiques, it is more plausible to adopt a form of Materialism, as it is supported by empirical evidence, and has made significant progress in explaining the mind-body problem through advances in neuroscience. However, the nature of consciousness remains a significant challenge for Materialism, and the debate continues.