The Mind Body Problem
The mind body problem is a problem that arises from the common belief that a human being is composed of both a mind and a body. These two parts are believed to be completely different from each other. In fact, the proponents of dualism believe that the mind can survive independent of the body and that when a person dies the mind is reincarnated in another being. The problem therefore arises in trying to explain how the mind, a body believed to be non-physical can have an influence on the body, which is physical. This problem has led to various theories that have been brought forth to try to explain the belief that the mind is a spiritual being and that it actually has an influence on the body. Among these is the dualism theory that tries to explain the existence of both the spirit and the mind. Other theories have also been studies, these try to differ with the belief that there is a non-physical body having an influence over the physical. These theories include the idealism that tries to explain that we have a mind but no body. Apart from this, there are those who believe that the human mind does not exist as a separate entity from the body. Instead, they hold that there human body is composed only of the physical that is the body and the brain.
- The dual aspect theory states that the mind and body are not two distinct parts but are two aspects of the same human body organ. It states that there are two different ways of looking at the relationship between the mind and the body. The theory goes ahead to explain that mental life happens in the brain. According to this theory, the brain is not just a physical object but also performs mental processes. There is therefore no difference between the mind and body in fact they are aspects of the same being with similar functions. The mind has a physical part, which performs physical functions. It also has a mental part that performs mental functions. This part is not open to any form of outside interference.
- The dual aspect theory is clearly more logical than other theories including the dualism, structuralism, materialism, radical behaviorism among others. As compared to dualism, it makes more sense since in dualism we are told that there is a mind and body and that they are separate entities. Dualism also seeks to establish that the mind has an influence on the body. What dualism does not prove however, is the existence of the mind. The explanation that the mind is a non-physical body is not enough to prove its existence. The other theories though a bit different from each other all try to explain that there is either no body or no mind. This makes it difficult to understand human beings since an explanation has to be brought forth to explain their mental and physical behavior and the causes of both. According to the dual aspect theory however, there is a close interaction between the mind and the body accompanied by uniform correlation of mental activities and physical activities. Also in explaining that the body and mind are not two distinct parts of the human body, but are tow aspects of the same part, it puts to rest the questions concerning the proof of their existence.
- There are a number of various reasons that have been put forth as an alternative to the dual aspect theory and though some of these theories actually make a lot of sense, they are mostly flawed to an extent that they raises a lot of unanswered questions.
Idealism for example is greatly flawed as it does not explain well enough the interaction between the body and the mind. It does not explain or prove the existence of other minds, yet it attempts to explain that the human being is composed only of the mind and not bodies. If adopted therefore, the theory is likely to lead to individualism. A person will tend to think that he or she is the only being with a mind. Like parallelism dualism, idealism tends to rely on the existence of a spiritual being, God to explain the interaction between the body and the mind. This however cannot be relied on, as the theory does not prove the existence of a God or of any other spiritual being for that matter.
The monies materialist theories consisting of eliminative materialism and radical behaviorism among other theories explain that the human being is only composed of the body and not the mind. These theories, though they seem to mend the flaws created by idealism, are also flawed. As human being, we have free will and the mental capacity to make individual decisions. This fact clearly goes against the radical behavior theory that explains that human behavior is not free but is pre determined by a number of factors. The eliminative materialism is more radical and is believed to have arisen to refute the other less radical theories. This theory however has been found to be self-refuting (Hasker, 27). This theory completely denies the existence of beliefs and their impact on human lives. However, for one to propose a theory, r anything for that matter, the person must be a believer of the theory. This therefore disqualifies the theory as it tries to state that even its proponents do not believe in.
The dualism theory on the other hand is flawed from the simple explanation that it puts forth as stated by Descartes (Solomon and Kathleen, 199). This is that the mind and body are two unlike substances existing independently in the human body. Naturally, however, it has been proven that substances cannot interact.
- The criticisms of the dual aspect theory is mainly based on the existence of consciousness (Drees, 188). These critiques including Daniel Dennett believes that though human beings are conscious beings, consciousness is a phenomenon that science can explain. They liken consciousness to other feelings such as heat, cold and even color. They go ahead to explain that the lingering question of “what it is like” should not be taken into consideration as it is an obsolete term that has since lost its meaning. They go ahead to compare this expression to outdated scientific suppositions about the ether.
- These critiques however fail to explain the similarity between consciousness and color. Consciousness as we are made to understand is not something that we can feel with our five senses but something only real in the mind. The mind body question is a question that many have attempted to solve. These solutions do not hold water for long however since in one way or another they are bound to be proven flawed. It is only through the dual aspect theory that we begin to understand just a little more about the interaction between the mind and the body.
Solomon, Robert C, and Kathleen M. Higgins. The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy. , 2013. Print.
Drees, Willem B. Religion, Science and Naturalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.
Hasker, William. The Emergent Self. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1999. Print.