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The Philosophy Of Mind: Mind-body Debate

Philosophy : Metaphysics

One of the most traditional debates in the philosophy of the mind is with regard the true nature of the mind, and how whatever the true nature is interacts with the body.

Depending on what you think the mind is, you get more or less seeming difficulty answering the question of interaction.

Broadly you may have those who think that the mind, the mental, is something non-physical, those that think it is purely physical, and those who think there is a combination of both.

You may be dualist or monist one way or the other. Most people these days are physicalists, in otherwords whilst acknowledging how incredibly complex the mental is, believing that in some way it is all very much physical and rooted in atoms and particles.

This view is mainly held because having a different form of mental stuff that is not physical in its nature raises more questions and is harder and more complex to explain than thinking everything is physical.

For instance questions arise such as 'where does this mental stuff come from? what is it's real nature?' and the problem of interactivity: how does the mental interact with the physical; is it even coherent for something non physical to interact with something physical? does the mental exist in time and space; if not where does it exist? how did we evolve/get this mental stuff?'

So the dualist conception of the mental as something separate from the physical world (perhaps a soul) is now very uncommon and virtually everyone is a physicalist in the philosophical world. However there are still very interesting conundrums to investigate.

How are tastes for instance represented and coded. When we think, what are we doing? If you look at the brain you can't see the thought 'I like chocolate' so how does everything work?

There is interesting philosophical debate to be had at this level though it starts to intersect with science when asking questions like this.

By: Fred

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