Descartes Mind Body Problem Analysis

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In the field of Philosophy, there seems to be few concepts that are more compelling to philosophers than that of the mind-body theory. Often referred to as the mind-body “problem,” this theory concerns the relationship between the physical body and the inner workings of the mind (generally, in regards to humans, although the mind-body problem has been applied to animals). The mind-body problem is credited to the seventeenth century French philosopher René Descartes. According to philosopher Neil Campbell in his book A Brief Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, prior to Descartes’ mind-body problem proposition, most of the world’s scientific theories were based off of the ancient Greek teachings of the philosopher, Aristotle (13). Aristotle …show more content…

Descartes’ explores this concept in his work, Mediations on First Philosophy, in which he develops the famous theory that started the conversation of the mind and body; Cartesian Dualism (also known as mind-body dualism). In summary, Cartesian Dualism argues that the physical body and immaterial soul are two distinct things that happen to interact with one another. The reason that Cartesian Dualism is important is that it has set a foundation for which philosophers can work from in regards to expanding on the mind-body problem. Thus, there are numerous approaches that have branched off of Descartes’ theory. Two such approaches are Behaviorism and Functionalism. Although similar in some aspects, the two approaches also differ in regards aspects dealing with how the mind and body process and react to stimuli, respectively. Ultimately, it will be explored what both of these theories offer, as well as why functionalism is a significant improvement over behaviorism when dealing with the mind-body …show more content…

Jaegwon Kim indicates that famous philosopher Hilary Putnam introduced the now dominant functionalist theory in his 1967 paper Psychological Predicates (129). Functionalism is the belief that phenomena are defined by the role that they play; in other words, what they do rather than what they are (Campbell 82). Functionalism is also characterized by its ability to unify and understand how mental processes, sensory stimuli, and physical behavior work together in describing the mind-body problem (Kim 169). Functionalism’s foundation relies on an input-output basis in that different mental states can affect this flow of information, so to speak (Kim 169). A popular functionalist concept is Turing Test which was created by mathematician Alan Turing. Turing, having been extremely interested in artificial intelligence, devised the test in which claims that if a computer mimics human intelligence, than it is actually intelligent (Campbell 87). Turing argued that if A and B are equivalent in regard to function, then A and B must also be equivalent in terms of their mental state. This popular functionalist claim is not exempt from criticism though, which will be discussed shortly. Jaegwon Kim summarizes functionalism as “a casual intermediary between sensory inputs and mental states as causes, on the one hand, and behaviors and other mental states as effects on the other”

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