Wednesday, September 7, 2011

342: Was Descartes with his Dualism yet right?

In fact it is remarkable, that in the philosophy of mind we speak of "The Mind - Body PROBLEM". Is it really a problem and in what sense is it a problem?

Let's see, what most people take for granted. Real facts:
1. You have a mind and a body;
2. These normally work together;
3. Your body is something physical and, thus, everybody can see you;

4. However, nobody can look into your mind. We love stories of mind readers, but so far these are still fairy tales
5. Which means that tho everybody can see your physical outside, you have privileged access to the content of your mind.

These are apparently rather obvious facts of life. We all know that we have a body and a mind and that the mind is not the same as the body.

But when you put these obvious facts under a philosophical magnifying glass, there may rise serious questions? Especially, ok….the body is physical, but the mind? What kind of material is a mind made of.

And when I look at this physical body of mine, makes it sense to ask where my mind is? Is it really in my head, as I am inclined to think?

The simplest position that makes sense regarding these questions is called Dualism, a philosophical answer to such questions developed by Descartes (1596 - 1650).

Descartes thought to have proved that the mind really was distinct from the body. According to him there are two substances in the universe: the physical and the mental.

The physical realm contains all those things made of matter, which occupy space and are governed by the laws of physics.

The mental realm contains those things that are essentially mental: hopes, emotions, imaginings, and consciousness.

The logic of Descartes arguments has had such an impact on our thinking about the mind, that we still are prone to take a dualistic approach when we talk about our body and mind.

Maybe you could say, that Descartes showed with strong and logical arguments, that our common sense ideas about the existence of a mind in a body are justified.

The arguments lead to two related conclusions:
1. that your mind is in no way the same thing as your body or any part of your body;
2. that what is essential to you is not your body but your mind.

Crucial to the argument is a basic principle which was later named by Leibniz (1646 -1717) the "indiscernibility of identicals".

The basic idea is: If two things are identical—if two things are the same thing-- then anything true of one is true of the other or more technically said: For any x and y, if x is identical to y, then x and y have all the same properties.

I guess most of you will know Descartes strategy to discover absolutely certain knowledge. He would have loved the movie the Matrix and would have said…there, you see? All can be fake; everything is only in your mind. You can doubt almost everything.

And here comes the proof, that Dualism MUST be right. Remember the "indiscernibility of identicals" principle. What does it tell us? If A and B are identical, are the very same thing, then what true is of A is true of B as well.

So IF the body is identical with the mind …. remember the slogan "We are our brain!", then what is true of the body is true of the mind.

However, I truly can doubt the reality of my body. I can imagine that I have a body or some evil demon makes me believe that I have a body.

But can an evil demon make me imagine that I am doubting? Were I to doubt that I was doubting, I still would be doubting.

The same applies to thinking. I still would be thinking. That means….whatever there is in reality, only of the existence of the mind, my mind, I can be absolutely certain.

In other words, I say something that is true of my mind, which is not true of my body. So body and mind can not be identical substances. Thence Dualism is right!

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you.... ㋡
[13:22] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:22] Adriana Jinn: very interesting
[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you Qwark...
[13:23] Qwark Allen: i arrived just in time
[13:23] herman Bergson: If anyone has a question or remark...the floor is yours ㋡
[13:23] herman Bergson smiles
[13:23] Alaya Kumaki: i can see that if the mind isn't visible there is no such thing as 2 thing, but only the body, a thinking body
[13:23] Jenna Felton is Offline
[13:23] herman Bergson: In coming lectures I'll show you that Dualism can't be true...
[13:24] Qwark Allen: we are matter and electricity
[13:24] Alaya Kumaki: that mean that there isn't a duality but or just a mind that we cannot see as a thing,
[13:24] Qwark Allen: 2 different things
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well.....
[13:24] herman Bergson: Descartes believed that there really were two different substances....
[13:25] herman Bergson: Therefor his ideas are called substance dualism....
[13:25] Alaya Kumaki: this is the position of descartes as only the mind, as a thin with all into it, that made me think of the opposite
[13:25] Mick Nerido: like earth, air water fire?
[13:25] herman Bergson: We'll see in coming lectures that attempts have been made to uphold a weaker form of dualism
[13:25] Qwark Allen: science nowadays says the same, we cannot explain conscience, but seems we are getting the idea how the brain process the information
[13:25] Alaya Kumaki: why didn't he explore as leibniz the posibility of no 2 thing?
[[13:26] herman Bergson: A philosopher he knew...Spinoza denied that there were two substances...
[13:26] druth Vlodovic: because dualism explained the "inherent truths" that felt real due to their religious socialization as children
[13:27] Alaya Kumaki: its difficult to figure out where he had the confirmation of the mind as a substance,,,
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Druth.....Descartes has a religious bias...
[13:27] herman Bergson: He had to leave matter to science en the mental/the soul to religion
[13:27] herman Bergson: It was a kind of intellectual escape for him
[13:28] herman Bergson: Spinoza was severely punished for his monistic ideas...
[13:29] herman Bergson: He dared to say that when the body dies there doesn't remain a soul...
[13:29] herman Bergson: that lives on for ever
[13:29] herman Bergson: immortal soul...yes
[13:29] Alaya Kumaki: so that would explain his rejection of the earthly body importance?
[13:29] herman Bergson: Descartes could leave that out of the debate
[13:30] Alaya Kumaki: as low.... or insignificant, and all in the soul or mind or spirit?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes ...since decartes western thought has put the ratio at first place....
[13:30] Alaya Kumaki: well we had that influence a lot is it
[13:30] herman Bergson: nowadays you see that we leave that position
[13:31] herman Bergson: and say that we are not mainly RATIONAL beings...
[13:31] Alaya Kumaki: lol
[13:31] Alaya Kumaki: :)
[13:31] herman Bergson: In fact Freud already pointed at that fact by defining the subconscious
[13:32] Alaya Kumaki: in gestalt they pointed the subconscious into the body,,
[13:32] Alaya Kumaki: when in contact with certain part of the body , lost memory came back
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes...but as something that influences our actions....
[13:32] Alaya Kumaki: yes
[13:33] herman Bergson: If nobody has any questions or so anymore.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: Thank you for your participation....
[13:33] Alaya Kumaki: if the mind is linked to the body as separate throught the nervous wire, than those wire pass all throught it, i see a brain body....
[13:33] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman:)
[13:33] Doodus Moose: Thanks, indeed, Professor!
[13:34] herman Bergson: Next lecture we'll see how right Dualism is
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: thank you Herman - very interesting
[13:34] herman Bergson: or wrong of course ㋡
[13:34] Doodus Moose: hihi
[13:34] Alaya Kumaki: its very interesting, mm my cup of tea
[13:34] Alaya Kumaki: thanks
[13:34] herman Bergson: My pleasure Alaya
[13:35] Doodus Moose: now to use my mind to decide what to feed the body :-)
[13:35] druth Vlodovic: what if we all get so firmly converted to dualism that you can't bring us back around?
[13:35] Qwark Allen: very interesting as always
[13:35] Qwark Allen paid you L$100.
[13:35] herman Bergson: I am not afraid of that Druth....
[13:35] Doodus Moose: byeeeeee!!!!!!
[13:35] herman Bergson: Philosophy is about clear and logical arguments.
[13:36] Adriana Jinn: thank you very much professor
[13:36] herman Bergson: So do Decartes arguments hold?
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll put that to the test!
[13:36] herman Bergson: It will be interesting ㋡
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: ㋡
[13:37] Adriana Jinn: as always
[13:37] Mick Nerido: Mind over matter or matter over mind..
[13:37] Qwark Allen: seems we are still in the mind/jar theme
[13:37] herman Bergson: THAT is a dualistic way of thinking Mick
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: *ggg*
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: or again maybe not ;) - we will find out -maybe its just like someone said the other day: we need a new language ;)
[13:38] Mick Nerido: That is our common sense way of thinking
[13:38] herman Bergson: That may be true Ciska...
[13:39] herman Bergson: In 1986 Patricia Churchland said so in her book Neurophilosophy
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: language makes borders too
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: not needed ones i guess - useless ones for understanding sometimes
[13:39] herman Bergson: And there are others that claim that our mental concepts will become obsolete...
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: yes...
[13:40] herman Bergson: Like we now don't speak of spells and whitchcraft etc anymore...
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: other words - same concept different way of seeing it ;)))
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes....something like that
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: well- we will see what you offer herman - always great to get insights ㋡
[13:41] Mick Nerido: Thanks, bye
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: have a great time everyone
[13:41] herman Bergson: Like water, earth, fire and air are no longer concepts in physics...
[13:41] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Mick
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: ㋡
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: bye folks
[13:41] herman Bergson: Bye ciska

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