Mind–body problem  

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"Consciousness is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong. The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophysical identification, or reduction. But the problems dealt with are those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H2O problem or the Turing machine-IBM machine problem or the lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored." --"What Is it Like to Be a Bat?"

The Heart Has Its Reasons (c.1887) by Odilon Redon, a phrase from the Pensées (1669) by Blaise Pascal
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The Heart Has Its Reasons (c.1887) by Odilon Redon, a phrase from the Pensées (1669) by Blaise Pascal

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The mind-body dichotomy is the view that "mental" phenomena are, in some respects, "non-physical" (distinct from the body). In a religious sense, it refers to the separation of body and soul (Paul, Letter to the Romans 7:25; 8:10). The mind-body dichotomy is the starting point of Dualism, and became conceptualized in the form known to the modern Western world in René Descartes' philosophy, though it also surfaced in pre-Aristotelian concepts and in Avicennian philosophy.

This view of reality leads one to consider the corporeal as little valued and trivial. The rejection of the mind-body dichotomy is found in French Structuralism, and is a position that generally characterized post-war French philosophy. The absence of an empirically identifiable meeting point between the non-physical mind and its physical extension has proven problematic to dualism and many modern philosophers of mind maintain that the mind is not something separate from the body. These approaches have been particularly influential in the sciences, particularly in the fields of sociobiology, computer science, evolutionary psychology and the various neurosciences.

Plato

Plato argued that, as the body is from the material world, the soul is from the world of ideas and thus immortal. He believed the soul was temporarily united with the body and would only be separated at death where it would then go back to the world of forms. As the soul does not exist in time and space like the body, it can access universal truths from the world of ideas. For Plato, ideas are the true reality, (in terms of the Platonic forms) and are experienced by the soul. Experience is not relevant to this, so the body is given no real part in reality. The body is for Plato empty in that it can not access the abstract reality of the world; it can only experience shadows. This is determined by Plato's essentially rationalistic epistemology.

René Descartes' illustration of mind/body dualism

René Descartes' illustration of mind/body dualism[1]

See also

philosophy of mind




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