Philosophy of Mind


Neutral monism , in philosophy , is the metaphysical view that the mental and the physical are two ways of organizing or describing the same elements, which are themselves "neutral", that is, neither physical nor mental. This view denies that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally different things.

Rather, neutral monism claims the universe consists of only one kind of stuff, in the form of neutral elements that are in themselves neither mental nor physical. These neutral elements might have the properties of color and shape, just as we experience those properties. But these shaped and colored elements do not exist in a mind considered as a substantial entity, whether dualistically or physicalistically ; they exist on their own.

Some philosophers take an epistemic approach and argue that the mind—body problem is currently unsolvable, and perhaps will always remain unsolvable to human beings. This is usually termed New mysterianism. Colin McGinn holds that human beings are cognitively closed in regards to their own minds. According to McGinn human minds lack the concept-forming procedures to fully grasp how mental properties such as consciousness arise from their causal basis.

A more moderate conception has been expounded by Thomas Nagel , which holds that the mind—body problem is currently unsolvable at the present stage of scientific development and that it might take a future scientific paradigm shift or revolution to bridge the explanatory gap. Nagel posits that in the future a sort of "objective phenomenology " might be able to bridge the gap between subjective conscious experience and its physical basis. Each attempt to answer the mind—body problem encounters substantial problems.

Some philosophers argue that this is because there is an underlying conceptual confusion. Rather it should simply be accepted that human experience can be described in different ways—for instance, in a mental and in a biological vocabulary. Illusory problems arise if one tries to describe the one in terms of the other's vocabulary or if the mental vocabulary is used in the wrong contexts. The brain is simply the wrong context for the use of mental vocabulary—the search for mental states of the brain is therefore a category error or a sort of fallacy of reasoning.

Today, such a position is often adopted by interpreters of Wittgenstein such as Peter Hacker. Where is the mind located? If the mind is a physical phenomenon of some kind, it has to be located somewhere. According to some, there are two possible options: More generally, either the mind depends only on events and properties taking place inside the subject's body or it depends also on factors external to it. Proponents of internalism are committed to the view that neural activity is sufficient to produce the mind.

Proponents of externalism maintain that the surrounding world is in some sense constitutive of the mind. Externalism differentiates into several versions. The main ones are semantic externalism , cognitive externalism and phenomenal externalism. Each of these versions of externalism can further be divided into whether they refer only to the content or to the vehicles of the mind. Semantic externalism holds that the semantic content of the mind is totally or partially defined by a state of affairs external to the body of the subject.

Hilary Putnam 's Twin Earth thought experiment is a good example.

Cognitive externalism is a very broad collection of views that suggests the role of the environment, of tools, of development, and of the body in fleshing out cognition. Embodied cognition , the extended mind , and enactivism are good examples. Phenomenal externalism suggests that the phenomenal aspects of the mind are external to the body.

Mind & Brain: Overview of Philosophy of Mind

The thesis of physicalism is that the mind is part of the material or physical world. Such a position faces the problem that the mind has certain properties that no other material thing seems to possess. Physicalism must therefore explain how it is possible that these properties can nonetheless emerge from a material thing.

The project of providing such an explanation is often referred to as the " naturalization of the mental". Many mental states seem to be experienced subjectively in different ways by different individuals. However, the sensation of pain between two individuals may not be identical, since no one has a perfect way to measure how much something hurts or of describing exactly how it feels to hurt.

Philosophers and scientists therefore ask where these experiences come from. The existence of cerebral events, in and of themselves, cannot explain why they are accompanied by these corresponding qualitative experiences. The puzzle of why many cerebral processes occur with an accompanying experiential aspect in consciousness seems impossible to explain.

Yet it also seems to many that science will eventually have to explain such experiences.

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According to this view, if an attempt can be successfully made to explain a phenomenon reductively e. The 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger criticized the ontological assumptions underpinning such a reductive model, and claimed that it was impossible to make sense of experience in these terms.

This is because, according to Heidegger, the nature of our subjective experience and its qualities is impossible to understand in terms of Cartesian "substances" that bear "properties". Another way to put this is that the very concept of qualitative experience is incoherent in terms of—or is semantically incommensurable with the concept of—substances that bear properties. This problem of explaining introspective first-person aspects of mental states and consciousness in general in terms of third-person quantitative neuroscience is called the explanatory gap.

David Chalmers and the early Frank Jackson interpret the gap as ontological in nature; that is, they maintain that qualia can never be explained by science because physicalism is false. There are two separate categories involved and one cannot be reduced to the other. According to them, the gap is epistemological in nature. For Nagel, science is not yet able to explain subjective experience because it has not yet arrived at the level or kind of knowledge that is required. We are not even able to formulate the problem coherently. We are not able to resolve the explanatory gap because the realm of subjective experiences is cognitively closed to us in the same manner that quantum physics is cognitively closed to elephants.

This semantic problem, of course, led to the famous " Qualia Question ", which is: Does Red cause Redness? Intentionality is the capacity of mental states to be directed towards about or be in relation with something in the external world. When one tries to reduce these states to natural processes there arises a problem: But mental ideas or judgments are true or false, so how then can mental states ideas or judgments be natural processes?

The possibility of assigning semantic value to ideas must mean that such ideas are about facts. Thus, for example, the idea that Herodotus was a historian refers to Herodotus and to the fact that he was a historian. If the fact is true, then the idea is true; otherwise, it is false. But where does this relation come from? In the brain, there are only electrochemical processes and these seem not to have anything to do with Herodotus.

Philosophy of perception is concerned with the nature of perceptual experience and the status of perceptual objects, in particular how perceptual experience relates to appearances and beliefs about the world. The main contemporary views within philosophy of perception include naive realism , enactivism and representational views. Humans are corporeal beings and, as such, they are subject to examination and description by the natural sciences. Since mental processes are intimately related to bodily processes, the descriptions that the natural sciences furnish of human beings play an important role in the philosophy of mind.

The list of such sciences includes: The theoretical background of biology, as is the case with modern natural sciences in general, is fundamentally materialistic. The objects of study are, in the first place, physical processes, which are considered to be the foundations of mental activity and behavior. Within the field of neurobiology, there are many subdisciplines that are concerned with the relations between mental and physical states and processes: The methodological breakthroughs of the neurosciences, in particular the introduction of high-tech neuroimaging procedures, has propelled scientists toward the elaboration of increasingly ambitious research programs: Computer science concerns itself with the automatic processing of information or at least with physical systems of symbols to which information is assigned by means of such things as computers.

A simple example is multiplication. It is not clear whether computers could be said to have a mind. Could they, someday, come to have what we call a mind? This question has been propelled into the forefront of much philosophical debate because of investigations in the field of artificial intelligence AI. Within AI, it is common to distinguish between a modest research program and a more ambitious one: The exclusive objective of "weak AI", according to Searle, is the successful simulation of mental states, with no attempt to make computers become conscious or aware, etc.

The objective of strong AI, on the contrary, is a computer with consciousness similar to that of human beings. As an answer to the question "Can computers think? Essentially, Turing's view of machine intelligence followed the behaviourist model of the mind—intelligence is as intelligence does. The Turing test has received many criticisms, among which the most famous is probably the Chinese room thought experiment formulated by Searle. The question about the possible sensitivity qualia of computers or robots still remains open. Some computer scientists believe that the specialty of AI can still make new contributions to the resolution of the "mind—body problem".

They suggest that based on the reciprocal influences between software and hardware that takes place in all computers, it is possible that someday theories can be discovered that help us to understand the reciprocal influences between the human mind and the brain wetware. Psychology is the science that investigates mental states directly. It uses generally empirical methods to investigate concrete mental states like joy , fear or obsessions.

Psychology investigates the laws that bind these mental states to each other or with inputs and outputs to the human organism. An example of this is the psychology of perception. Scientists working in this field have discovered general principles of the perception of forms. A law of the psychology of forms says that objects that move in the same direction are perceived as related to each other.

However, it does not suggest anything about the nature of perceptual states. The laws discovered by psychology are compatible with all the answers to the mind—body problem already described. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does, and how it works.

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Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although. Philosophy of Mind is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind (mental events, mental functions, mental properties and consciousness) and.

It includes research on intelligence and behavior, especially focusing on how information is represented, processed, and transformed in faculties such as perception, language, memory, reasoning, and emotion within nervous systems human or other animal and machines e. Cognitive science consists of multiple research disciplines, including psychology , artificial intelligence , philosophy , neuroscience , linguistics , anthropology , sociology , and education. Rowlands argues that cognition is enactive, embodied, embedded, affective and potentially extended. The position is taken that the "classical sandwich" of cognition sandwiched between perception and action is artificial; cognition has to be seen as a product of a strongly coupled interaction that cannot be divided this way.

Most of the discussion in this article has focused on one style or tradition of philosophy in modern Western culture, usually called analytic philosophy sometimes described as Anglo-American philosophy. With reference specifically to the discussion of the mind, this tends to translate into attempts to grasp the concepts of thought and perceptual experience in some sense that does not merely involve the analysis of linguistic forms. Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason , first published in and presented again with major revisions in , represents a significant intervention into what will later become known as the philosophy of mind.

Kant's first critique is generally recognized as among the most significant works of modern philosophy in the West. Kant's work develops an in-depth study of transcendental consciousness, or the life of the mind as conceived through universal categories of consciousness. See also Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit. Nonetheless, Hegel's work differs radically from the style of Anglo-American philosophy of mind. In , Henri Bergson made in Matter and Memory "Essay on the relation of body and spirit" a forceful case for the ontological difference of body and mind by reducing the problem to the more definite one of memory, thus allowing for a solution built on the empirical test case of aphasia.

In modern times, the two main schools that have developed in response or opposition to this Hegelian tradition are phenomenology and existentialism. Phenomenology, founded by Edmund Husserl , focuses on the contents of the human mind see noema and how processes shape our experiences. Existential-phenomenology represents a major branch of continental philosophy they are not contradictory , rooted in the work of Husserl but expressed in its fullest forms in the work of Martin Heidegger , Jean-Paul Sartre , Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

In these schools a clear difference is drawn between matter and a non-material soul, which is eternal and undergoes samsara , a cycle of death and rebirth. Advaita, which means non-dualism, holds the view that all that exists is pure absolute consciousness. The fact that the world seems to be made up of changing entities is an illusion, or Maya. The only thing that exists is Brahman , which is described as Satchitananda Being, consciousness and bliss.

Advaita Vedanta is best described by a verse which states "Brahman is alone True, and this world of plurality is an error; the individual self is not different from Brahman. Another form of monistic Vedanta is Vishishtadvaita qualified non-dualism as posited by the eleventh century philosopher Ramanuja. Ramanuja criticized Advaita Vedanta by arguing that consciousness is always intentional and that it is also always a property of something.

Ramanuja's Brahman is defined by a multiplicity of qualities and properties in a single monistic entity. This doctrine is called " samanadhikaranya " several things in a common substrate. Therefore, they held that even consciousness was nothing but a construct made up of atoms. Buddhist teachings describe that the mind manifests moment-to-moment as sense impressions and mental phenomena that are continuously changing. The Buddha's not-self doctrine sees humans as an impermanent composite of five psychological and physical aspects instead of a single fixed self.

In this sense, what is called ego or the self is merely a convenient fiction, an illusion that does not apply to anything real but to an erroneous way of looking at the ever-changing stream of five interconnected aggregate factors. This means that all things, including mental events, arise co-dependently from a plurality of other causes and conditions. This seems to reject both causal determinist and epiphenomenalist conceptions of mind.

Three centuries after the death of the Buddha c. According to this theory, perceptual experience is bound up in multiple conceptualizations expectations, judgments and desires. This proliferation of conceptualizations form our illusory superimposition of concepts like self and other upon an ever-changing stream of aggregate phenomena. Consciousness is instead said to be divided into six sense modalities, five for the five senses and sixth for perception of mental phenomena. Rejection of a permanent agent eventually led to the philosophical problems of the seeming continuity of mind and also of explaining how rebirth and karma continue to be relevant doctrines without an eternal mind.

This "life-stream" Bhavanga -sota is an undercurrent forming the condition of being. The continuity of a karmic "person" is therefore assured in the form of a mindstream citta-santana , a series of flowing mental moments arising from the subliminal life-continuum mind Bhavanga -citta , mental content, and attention. It held that external objects exist only as a support for cognition, which can only apprehend mental representations. The works of Vasubandhu have often been interpreted as arguing for some form of Idealism.

Vasubandhu uses the dream argument and a mereological refutation of atomism to attack the reality of external objects as anything other than mental entities.

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And by relying on this Middle Way system, know that no self exists at all, even in that [mind]. This repository consciousness acts as a storehouse for karmic seeds bija when all other senses are absent during the process of death and rebirth as well as being the causal potentiality of dharmic phenomena. No constituents of the body—in the brain or elsewhere—transform into mental states and processes. Such subjective experiences do not emerge from the body, but neither do they emerge from nothing.

Rather, all objective mental appearances arise from the substrate, and all subjective mental states and processes arise from the substrate consciousness. Tibetan Buddhist theories of mind evolved directly from the Indian Mahayana views. According to the 14th Dalai Lama the mind can be defined "as an entity that has the nature of mere experience, that is, 'clarity and knowing'.

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This doctrine is called " samanadhikaranya " several things in a common substrate. Descartes believed that this interaction physically occurred in the pineal gland. Alan Wallace; Mind in the Balance: Philosophy of mind , reflection on the nature of mental phenomena and especially on the relation of the mind to the body and to the rest of the physical world. Problems in the Philosophy of Mind. If all explanation is by logical entailment, then we reason that there must be a final theory of everything at the base of physics that entails logically all that unfolds in the universe.

It is the knowing nature, or agency, that is called mind, and this is non-material. The 14th Dalai Lama has also explicitly laid out his theory of mind as experiential dualism which is described above under the different types of dualism. Because Tibetan philosophy of mind is ultimately soteriological , it focuses on meditative practices such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra that allow a practitioner to experience the true reflexive nature of their mind directly.

This unobstructed knowledge of one's primordial, empty and non-dual Buddha nature is called rigpa. The mind's innermost nature is described among various schools as pure luminosity or "clear light" 'od gsal and is often compared to a crystal ball or a mirror. Sogyal Rinpoche speaks of mind thus: Imagine a sun, luminous, clear, unobstructed, and spontaneously present; its nature is like this.

The central issue in Chinese Zen philosophy of mind is in the difference between the pure and awakened mind and the defiled mind. Chinese Chan master Huangpo described the mind as without beginning and without form or limit while the defiled mind was that which was obscured by attachment to form and concepts. This non-conceptual seeing also includes the paradoxical fact that there is no difference between a defiled and a pure mind, as well as no difference between samsara and nirvana.

In the Shobogenzo , the Japanese philosopher Dogen argued that body and mind are neither ontologically nor phenomenologically distinct but are characterized by a oneness called shin jin bodymind. According to Dogen, "casting off body and mind" Shinjin datsuraku in zazen will allow one to experience things-as-they-are genjokoan which is the nature of original enlightenment hongaku. There are countless subjects that are affected by the ideas developed in the philosophy of mind.

Clear examples of this are the nature of death and its definitive character, the nature of emotion , of perception and of memory. Questions about what a person is and what his or her identity consists of also have much to do with the philosophy of mind. There are two subjects that, in connection with the philosophy of the mind, have aroused special attention: In the context of philosophy of mind, the problem of free will takes on renewed intensity. This is certainly the case, at least, for materialistic determinists.

Mental states, and therefore the will as well, would be material states, which means human behavior and decisions would be completely determined by natural laws. Some take this reasoning a step further: Consequently, they are not free. This argumentation is rejected, on the one hand, by the compatibilists. Those who adopt this position suggest that the question "Are we free? The opposite of "free" is not "caused" but "compelled" or "coerced". It is not appropriate to identify freedom with indetermination. A free act is one where the agent could have done otherwise if it had chosen otherwise.

In this sense a person can be free even though determinism is true. On the other hand, there are also many incompatibilists who reject the argument because they believe that the will is free in a stronger sense called libertarianism. Critics of the second proposition b accuse the incompatibilists of using an incoherent concept of freedom. They argue as follows: And if what we desire is purely accidental, we are not free. So if our will is not determined by anything, we are not free. The philosophy of mind also has important consequences for the concept of "self".

If by "self" or "I" one refers to an essential, immutable nucleus of the person , some modern philosophers of mind, such as Daniel Dennett believe that no such thing exists. According to Dennett and other contemporaries, the self is considered an illusion. Such an idea is unacceptable to modern philosophers with physicalist orientations and their general skepticism of the concept of "self" as postulated by David Hume , who could never catch himself not doing, thinking or feeling anything.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Functionalism philosophy of mind. Animal consciousness Artificial consciousness Collective intentionality Outline of human intelligence Outline of thought Theory of mind in animals. Problems in the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford Companion to Philosophy. The Contents of Visual Experience. Perception, Action, Knowledge, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Archived from the original on May 15, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy.

Journal of Philosophical Research. Ingthorsson 21 March Mental Causation and Ontology. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Archived from the original on See also Dempsey, L. Marras and Kim on the Efficacy of Conscious Experience". See also Baltimore, J. Psychobiology , Prentice Hall, Inc. A Modern Approach , New Jersey: The Selfish Gene Oxford: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind—Brain.

Essays on Actions and Events. University of Pittsburgh Press. A Paper on the Philosophy of Mind. Classical and Contemporary Readings. Little, Brown and Co. The Self and Its Brain. La Scienza in Divenire.

Introduction to Philosophy/Philosophy of Mind

Reprinted in Method and Results: Essays by Thomas H. Appleton and Company, Journal of Consciousness Studies: Special Issue on Monist Alternatives to Physicalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Consciousness At The Crossroads: Michel Weber and Anderson Weekes eds.

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To have complete access to the thousands of philosophy articles on this site, please. In the twentieth century philosophy of mind became one of the central areas of philosophy in the English-speaking world, and so it remains. Questions such as the relationship between mind and brain, the nature of consciousness, and how we perceive the world, have come to be seen as crucial in understanding the world.

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These days, the predominant position in philosophy of mind aims at equating mental phenomena with operations of the brain, and explaining them all in scientific terms. According to Descartes, each of us consists of a material body subject to the normal laws of physics, and an immaterial mind, which is not. Although immaterial, the mind causes actions of the body, through the brain, and perceptions are fed to the mind from the body.

Descartes thought this interaction between mind and body takes place in the part of the brain we call the pineal gland. In the early twentieth century three strands of thought arose out of developments in psychology and philosophy which would come together to lead to Cartesian Dualism being challenged, then abandoned.

I will begin with a very brief summary of each of those positions before I describe various contemporary views that have evolved from them:. Behaviorists accept psychologist B. So, for behaviorists, all talk about mental events — images, feelings, dreams, desires, and so on — is really either a reference to a behavioral disposition or it is meaningless. Behaviorists claim that only descriptions of objectively observable behavior can be scientific. Head-scratching is objectively observable. Incestuous desire is not; nor is universal doubt, apprehension of infinity, or Cartesian introspection.

Philosophers like Carl Hempel and Gilbert Ryle shared the view that all genuine problems are scientific problems. Verificationism was a criterion of meaning for language formulated by the Logical Positivists of the Vienna Circle, who argued that any proposition that was not an a logical truth or which could not be tested was literally meaningless. Scientific Reductionism is the claim that explanations in terms of ordinary language, or sciences such as psychology, physiology, biology, or chemistry, are reducible to explanations at a simpler level — ultimately to explanations at the level of physics.

Only these ones will rate as real mental events to the scientific reductionist. The Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle had another way to explain away the mind that Plato and Descartes believed exists independently of a body. Category mistakes, as the name suggests, involve putting something into the wrong logical category. According to Ryle, the properties of a person are better understood as adjectives modifying a body, than as a noun an object parallel to it.

Intelligence, for example, is not a thing that exists apart from and parallel to a body, but rather is a collection of properties a body has. Intelligence includes properties such as social skill, quick wit, organizational ability, math ability, a sense of humor, musical talent, articulateness, critical thinking skill, and artistic sensitivity. Someone who never exhibited any of these skills or abilities would not be called intelligent; and anyone who is considered intelligent exhibits some of these talents.

Ludwig Wittgenstein contributed an argument against private language. He claimed that for a symbol or a word to have a meaning there must be agreement among people about what the symbol is to mean. Children learn its correct and incorrect applications by being corrected by elders in their use of the word.

This became known as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and for a while it dominated philosophical discussions about mental events. Since then, however, Identity Theory discussions have been superceded by discussions driven by computer metaphors, such as Functionalism, Neurological Reductivist Materialism, Supervenience Theories, and Naturalistic Dualism. Functionalism is the theory that the important thing about mental states is not where they are located or what they are made of, but what function they perform. Alan Turing is generally regarded as one of the fathers of computer science: He also argued that artificial intelligence is intelligence in every sense of the word.

In a paper he described a scenario which has since become known as the Turing Test. Suppose you are communicating with two people on the other side of a wall. You pass notes through a slot and figure out which of the people is responding to your notes. Do you have any reason to say that the person you were communicating with before is intelligent but the computer is not? If intelligence consists of your ability to solve math problems, keep track of lots of information, organize data, recognize recurring patterns, and play chess, and the computer can do all of these things better and faster than you can, then you have no right to claim that you are intelligent and it is not.

Turing is identifying mental properties with mental functions — not with observable behavior, as Ryle did; nor with brain states, as Smart did. Hilary Putnam, writing in the s, argued that a feeling of pain could be a function that is in principle realizable in a collection of silicon chips or some other physical apparatus as well as in a brain. He further claimed that any organism can be described as a probabilistic automaton — i. All organisms are systems that causally interact with the environment, have processing procedures, and output effects, claimed Putnam.

He has since changed his mind about functionalism and become a pragmatist. Jerry Fodor added to the functionalist program the proviso that any function capable of working as brain states do must be computational. Neurons, structures and patterns in the brain can be described in terms of mathematical models. Therefore if mental events are to be functionally connected to brains in a one-to-one correspondence, then they too must be realizable through a language of thought in a digitizable format. The Churchlands claim that talk of mental states will eventually be abandoned altogether, in favor of a radically different view of how the brain works not identified with brain states.

According to the Churchlands, folk psychology is the way most people think about how thinking works. So for example, most people now think that we have a stream of consciousness that contains images and conceptions of a wide variety of types about which we have beliefs and attitudes. Our beliefs and attitudes are colored by our feelings, which include mental states like joy, sorrow, resentment, anxiety and relief. We also think that the way we sense the world and ourselves is largely a direct representation of the way the world is; so the world contains cold and hot, colored, shaped, hard and soft, threatening and soothing things, and our bodies sometimes are those ways as well.

All of this is false, according to the Churchlands. It is not just a bit misleading, the way a fuzzy map might misrepresent some areas of terrain. It is downright false across the board, in the way that the notion that demonic possession explains mental illness is false. Paul Churchland points out how radically scientific revolutions alter the way people think about things.

Likewise, science now has no place for phlogiston, choleric personalities, and demonic possession. Churchland predicts that in the same way, at some point in the near future, people will no longer even try to introspect to see how they are doing. Just as a psychologist might now tell a depressed patient to stop worrying about why he is depressed and take some Prozac, so in the future, people might figure out how they are doing mentally by giving themselves a home fMRI or CAT scan and having their computer analyze the data.

Churchland has three arguments in favor of eliminative materialism. The first is that folk psychology fails to explain such common activities as sleep, learning, intelligence and mental illness. Secondly, the history of ideas supports elimination of old conceptual frameworks.