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Mind-Body Problem

  Philosophers have long found the relation between mental and physical phenomena problematic. Descartes gave a modal argument for supposing that mental and physical phenomena are distinct. He argued that if it is possible for one\'s mind to exist without one\'s body, then one\'s mind is distinct from one\'s body. He further claimed that it is possible for one\'s mind to exist without one\'s body, for one\'s mind to exist disembodied. So, he concluded, one\'s mind is distinct from one\'s body. There are non-physical minds and non-mental bodies: dualism is true.

The most obvious problem for dualism is that if minds and bodies are such radically different things, then it is difficult to see how they could causally interact. How could damage to physical bodies cause pain in non-physical minds? And how could perceptual experiences in non-physical minds causally affect the movements of physical bodies? Parallelists respond to this problem by simply denying that minds and bodies causally interact. They hold that physical events have only physical effects, not non-physical mental ones, and that non-physical mental events have only mental effects, not physical ones. Interactionists insist that the non-physical mental does causally interact with the physical. They deny that our difficulty in understanding how the non-physical mental could causally interact with the physical shows that it does not. AJ

See also behaviourism; eliminativism; epiphenomenalism; functionalism; idealism; interactionism; materialism; mental phenomena; monism; neutral monism; panpsychism; parallelism.Further reading J. Foster, The Immaterial Self; , C. McGinn, The Character of Mind.



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