Problems for the Mind/Body problem…

Thinking Cat (1)

The question is, in general, what is the relationship between the “mind” and the “body”?

The classic definitions of these things are pretty much — “the body” is the physical thing we can ‘experience’ the world with.  It’s your arms, legs, feet, face and all the organs including the brain.  “the mind” is the non-physical thing that seems to us like experience.  It’s non-physical, and is sometimes argued to be the same as the ‘soul’.

When you’re evaluating competing theories on the mind/body question — think about these things…

1) ‘mind’ and ‘body’ seem to impact one another —

For example, when you are in a good mood your body seems lighter — and when you haven’t had enough sleep, your mind doesn’t seem to function as well.  Another example, when you take certain substances into your body, your mind has different thoughts etc.

IF the theory you’re looking at says they are distinct kinds of things — then they need to explain HOW they interact.  IF a thing is completely non-physical (think ‘the cloud’ without a computer to host it) then how can it impact the physical and vice versa…

2) The ‘mind’ and the ‘body’ seem to be very different things…

You imagine things you’ve never seen — you create works from just your thoughts — you can have entire imaginary friends and overall have a life of the mind that does not necessarily have to be inspired by your physical surroundings.

In fact, it’s kind of impossible to KNOW the actual ‘nature’ of the things that prompt your thoughts.  It’s possible that when you experience things, your brain/mind creates a perception of that thing that may or may not resemble the physical thing outside of your brain/mind.  For example, when  you “see” something, your physical eyes are reacting to light that’s interacting with things out there in the world.  Your eyes accept this data, then your mind/brain works on that data and what you “see” is just the finished product.  What is ‘out there’ in the physical world could be significantly different, and you wouldn’t know.

Also, an MRI of your brain during an activity is NOT a replica OF that activity (for fun, look up MRI during sex) — the general idea is that the photos of your brain experiencing sex isn’t the same thing you experience during sex…

SO — folks who try to argue that the “mind” is just a brain function — like digestion is a stomach function — need to explain that problem.

To be honest, I don’t have a favorite position on this question — and, it’s questions like this that prompted me to concentrate on Ethics, not metaphysics…


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