Talk:Mind-body problem

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Theology Section[edit]

"which Platonic dualism was a strong (though not uncontested) element, but it also builds on 2nd Temple Judaism, in which there was little or no notion of a soul seperable from the body. While an immaterial soul that goes to heaven or hell has been a persistent variant on Christian orthodoxy, the mainline teaching is of the Resurrection of the Body - that God will create new bodies for those who are saved at the end of time. By contrast, the stark dualism of the Gnostics who saw the body as evil and wished to ascend into a purely spiritual realm was condemned as heresy. This is a complex and controversial area, but the entry as it stands is amusingly inaccurate. (As well as ambiguous - it should read "Christian orthodoxy", since it is intended to refer to Christianity as a whole, not just the eastern Church.) -- DukeAldhein 15:18, 22 Jan 2006 (GMT)

Don't be amused.  :) Be bold! i.e. Be inspired to help fix. My reasoning on the theology section when something like this:
  1. Everyone's always telling me how much Christian Science and Gnosticism is idealism. I should mention that.
  2. ooh! Occasionalism is a religion form of parallelism. I should probably mention that.
  3. Well.. it doesn't make much sense to explain what these heretical sects of christianity believe without talking about what mainstream christianity says.
  4. Umm. My catholic catechism and the informal versions of christainty i've heard sound exactly like Cartesian Dualism to me. I'll put that.

The ressurection of the body stuff certainly would have a place here. Docetism perhaps could use a mention too. -Alecmconroy 18:45, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

can we have a reference for that caltech grandmother cell claims please?

(I think an article on this subject should mention Decartes and his "Cogito ergo sum" idea, that is, "I think, therefore I am." I think it is relevant to the mind-body issue and should not be left out. --ArcticFrog 14:06, 6 Jun 2004 (UTC)ArcticFrog)

Should the article be ordered historically?[edit]

The discussion is introduced in terms of the "human body and its mind". However, the mind-body problem has been discussed throughout antiquity in slightly different terms by metaphysicians (in the philosophical rather than 'supernatural' sense), viz. as a question of the fundamental nature of reality : is reality composed of mind(s) or matter? The article's presentation begins from the relatively recent perspective of the philosophy of mind by focusing on the nature of human consciousness and things like neurons. However, this article goes on to generalize the discussion ("What is the basic relationship between the mental and the physical?") I suppose this critique is mainly one of structure and order. I am inclined to a more historically ordered presentation, although this may not be the best way to describe the topic in contemporary terms. This re-structuring would entail a major edit. 07:32, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Personally, I think it's better to start with the more recent theory, then delve back into (or refer to) the past as necessary. Clear sectioning and a degree of modularity would allow the reader to follow the piece in the order they prefer. Mr. Jones 03:34, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
BTW, who has suggested that the world is composed of mind? I don't think anyone has ever seriously suggested that. Mr. Jones 17:49, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)
George Berkeley's Subjective idealism seems to be precisely this view. --mporch 11:17, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

William James and the Mind-Body Problem[edit]

William James makes a very important point in one of his books on the subject - but I cannot remember which one. Can anyone point me to it? Also, has anyone else made similar points?

Anyway, the point he made was this:

Opponents of dualism ask, "How exactly does the mind substance interact with the physical substance?" William James replies, "How exactly does one physical substance interact with another physical substance?" The answer, according to James, as I understand him, is "It just does". If a physical substance can act on another physical substance, why can't a mental substance act on a physical substance?

One might then also ask...if mental and physical substances do the same things by the same "Nike" are we to assert that they are distinct? We are full circle. 23:09, 24 January 2006 (UTC)Ben

If I can find where James discusses this, I will have to reread that argument. Michael Voytinsky

  • I don't have copy on me at the moment, but I'd say that the most likely source is his Principles of Psychology, most likely the sections on "The Automaton Theory" and "Mind-stuff". Again, I'm going from memory here. If you have the two-volume set, the most interesting material is in the first volume, I think. The wiki article on the PoP has a link to the etext. Adam Conover 16:53, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
  • It's probably worth mentioning that the idea, "It just does" is a classic example of the type of philosophy advocated by pragmatism --mporch 21:00, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Cartesian Dualism[edit]

If we think it prudent enough to break down a proveable science, such as mathematics, so often to a cartesian plane; why wouldn't it be just as logical to think cartesian dualism is the best way to explain what actually happens?Jebus96ae 13:08, 17 February 2006 (UTC)Jebus96ae

An outline of Larry Sanger's article[edit]

This has a few additions (by other editors and myself) beyond what Larry wrote, of course. Please wikify this and make changes and suggestions as to how it should be structured. I do quite like the flow of it. I hope we can regain that in newer versions. Mr. Jones 03:34, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

  • Definition and outline of problem
    • Who does this concern?
      • Philosophers of mind
      • Theologians
    • The relationship of body and mind
    • Are mind and matter different? If so, how?
    • Mental "substance" and physical "substance"
    • Another view: Mental "events" rather than mental "substance"
      • Mental "events" and physical events
        • Relationships
        • Differences
        • The causation of Brain function (Larry's assertion seems a bit bogus to me; manifestation of an event in the brain doesn't preclude it being non-physical or even not purely the operation of neurons).
  • Objections to non-physicality of the mind

  • Alternative formulations (aside)
    • Processes
    • Consciousness
  • Other ways of expressing the problem
    • By what they can be reduced to
      • mental and physical events are totally different, and cannot be reduced to each other (which is dualism);
      • mental events are to be reduced to physical events (which is materialism)
      • physical events are to be reduced to mental events (which is phenomenalism).
    • By what exists "ultimately"
      • according to dualism, both mental and physical events exist ultimately
      • according to materialism, only physical events exist ultimately;
      • according to phenomenalism, only mental events exist ultimately.
  • Monism
    • Materialism and physicalism
    • phenomenalism
    • neutral monism.
    • also
    • functionalism (analogy with behaviourism)
    • eliminativism
    • supervienience
  • Dualism (?)
  • Summary of definition
    • "The relationship between mental and physical"
    • The three traditional positions
      • Dualism is the view that mental events and physical events are totally different kinds of events.
      • Materialism, or physicalism, is the view that mental events are nothing more than a special kind of physical event.
      • Phenomenalism, or subjective idealism, is the view that physical events are nothing more than a special kind of mental event.

MrJones, this is amazing work. Great job. With this, we should be able to go through each point and write a new version that replaces Larry's Text. It looks like we might have three of us to work on this project -- I'll start this weekend. Adam Conover 03:42, Apr 10, 2004 (UTC) (P.S.: I moved this thread to the bottom of the page for readability's sake. Hope you don't mind.)

No worries. There're a fair few more topics to add, like supervenience physicalism, and the topics near the bottom need working into the main structure. I'm not sure the time's right to start writing, but you might like to have a go anyway for practice. I don't know how you work in that respect :-) I am going to do some reading and return to this in a week's time. I will monitor the page as I can in the mean time. Mr. Jones 18:03, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC) OK, this is going to take me a couple more weeks at least. Very interesting to investigate. Mr. Jones 13:36, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Just throwing in a few things into the discusssion. These topics should probably be integrated into the overall discussion - or at least related to the other various sub-topics: Occasionalism - Pre-established harmony - panpsychism. Wikipedia is also missing an article on Property Dualism, which also deserves mention on this page in the Dualism section. One thing I find interesting is how terribly similar Property Dualism and Neutral Monism seem to be - they both are contrary to Physicalism/Materialism and phenomenalism/Subjective idealism. The distinction between Property Dualism and Neutral Monism can be arrived at by making the property/substance distinction from classic metaphysics (I actually think taht the whole monism/dualism debate can be viewed from a property/substance perpspective). Another thing of interest I've seen a 4-point-dial diagram where these various views arranged (see --mporch 12:00, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm going to throw another idea into the mix here. What about associating the views of epistemology with perspectives on the mind/body problem? For example, metaphysical materialism has traditionally been associated with epitemological empericism. Just a thought. --mporch 12:23, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

  • Just adding Popper's views on the subject (please correct this if this is wrong).
  • Popper argued that philosophical doctrines like materialism and determinism have NO scientific basis in classical physics. Materialism has been undermined by every advancement in physics, from Newton.
  • Popper, whose knowledge of the sciences is remarkable, still advocated "common sense" interactionism (dualism), where body and mind interact. Popper also thought the question "what is mind?" is a futile one.

Final sentence[edit]

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding here, but the sentence: "Future research may soon reveal the limitations of science in addressing and solving the question of the mind-brain problem." hardly seems NPOV to me. Is there any reason why it needs to be put on the end of the article?

First sentence[edit]

Not a good idea to begin with 'If.'

'Proper tone expected of an encyclopedia'[edit]

Is this the sort of bollocks we're to expect because the media is unhappy with the modest imprecision and lack of deathliness of a people-produced reference?

The question for any article, I think, is not one of 'tone', but one of substantial elucidation of the subject. And one of doing so in a way that leaves it open to understanding by a majority of the population.

Certainly a nice, hairy, righteously obscurantist exposition of the MBP might be more suitable for encyclopedic tone, but it's not all that likely to educate anyone except the bleeding choir.

-- -- Twang 30 Jan 2006

This article should be merged[edit]

This article need to integrated with the general artcile on philosophy of mind. I don't want to hear any objections to this idea, both of them are comltely unacceptable and there is only one corresponding article in the German FA version called "Philosophy of Mind". As that article points out (based on what I could glean from my extremely pathetic knowledge of German), the central question of philolophuy of mind IS the mind-body problem. They are almost synonymous, I would dare say. I know there are other issues, but the German artcile does an outstanding job of covering them as offshoots of the central problem of M/B problem. So the only question is how to integrate and, notwithstanding what I said above, I would like to know how do others feel about this suggestion of course.--Lacatosias 11:35, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

50% Übereinstimmung[edit]

Re AT THE KONGRESS. The Thema was the Leib-Seele Problem. Seele can mean a lot of things: soul, ghost, spirit, maid et cetera. But it does not even come near to what an American would call mind. On the other hand, Leib is more or less the same as body. So the Americans had no trouble following the discussions on what they understood to be the mind-body problem. They got everything 50% right. --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 13:09, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Maid??? Are you kidding me or what? BTW, this article will be merged with philosophy of mindand both of them wil be replaced once I get done working on my version, based on the structure of the German one, over at User:Lacatosias\Philosophy of Mind. --Lacatosias 13:47, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
At least, in Italian, mente means mind, corpo means body, cervello mean brain, spirito means spirit, anima means soul, etc.. Much simpler.--Lacatosias 13:51, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Re KIDDING. No, Lacatosias, this is what maids were called when there was not yet an equivalent of COLF available. Not important? You're wrong. A "clean" use of the word is not possible. Never was. If you can't picture Goethe's Iphigenie das Land der Griechen mit der Seele suchend, you will never understand what a German speaking psychologist 100 years ago was talking about. The point is, in German there is no such thing as THE MIND. No such word. No such concept.--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 13:02, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

So who the heck suggested it was not important?

I find it humorous (as obviosly you must too judging by your 50% undertanding jokes) but this does not mean that I said it was unimportant. There are innumerable examples of such concepts which have no equivalent in another language. Off the top of my head, the Italian language has no word for "computer", "pet", "scanner", "to scan", "to chat", "floopy disk", "on-line", "Webmaster" etc.. In English, there is no such thing as "dietrologia" (the stidy of ulterior motives). There are mny, many examples but I don't have time to come up with any really good ones now.

Re EXAMPLES. Anybody who knows what a scanner is will talk about the same thing as I do, regardless of the word he uses for it. And after a short explanation every halfway intelligent person will mean more or less the same thing when he uses the word "dietrologia". Not so with MIND & Co. Find out for yourself: Take the big Langenscheidt Italian-German Dictionary. Look up mente. You'll find (in this order) Geist, Verstand, Sinn, Gedächtnis, Kopf. Now turn to the German-Italian section and look up these German words. Have fun!--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 09:37, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
I understand the distintion you're getting at.The concept of mind does not exist in the German language. I cannot remeber any truly equivalent examples, but they do indeed exist. In many languages (I don't remeber off the top of my head), there are no words (concepts) for colors like red, green and so on. The fundamental notions are incomprehensible. There are languages in which the concept of "person" or "individual" does not exist and so on. What do you want me to do invent a word and force all German-speaking peoples to accept it as "mind"??--Lacatosias 11:47, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Re FORCE. You are still mixing up words and concepts, Lacatosias. If you really believe, as you claim, that there are people who do not have a CONCEPT of "person" or "individual", just step on their feet and you will see that you're mistaken. No, Lacatosias, I don't want you to invent anything and I don't want you to force anybody to accept anything. But you should ask yourself the following: If, as we have seen, basic concepts are universal, and if German speaking people have no such concept as THE MIND, then what does that say about all the talk about THE MIND in English. Nothing? --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 09:26, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Such people, as I understand it, would not recognize the fact that an individual self had been injured by someon'es else's "stepping on their toes" but that the entire cosmos or the whole commonity (or what have you) had been injured. Indeed, I often sympathize with this view myself, im my more solipsisitic moods, when I believe that I and the the external world are the same thing.--Lacatosias 10:16, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Re EXPERIMENTS. If thought experiments won't do it, Lacatosias, you will have to fall back on a real one. Next time you think that you are one of these "people", call your dentist for an appointment. Then, observe carefully: Who do you feel is going to sit in the dentist's chair? the external world? the cosmos? --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 20:19, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

This would obviously just demonstrate how deeply I am steeped in the profoundly-ingrained background assumptions of my own culture. --Lacatosias 08:14, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Re PROBABILITIES. What you are telling me, Lacatosias, is this: Both of us feel that we ourselves would be sitting in the dentist's chair. Both of us have been to many places but have never met anyone who thought that he could somehow get the cosmos to sit in for him. Both of us, being reasonable people, will not exclude the possibility that such people might nevertheless be found somewhere. Where we differ is only in the probabilities that we assign to the various possibilities.
I suggest therefore that we put this argument aside for the moment. I don't think you made your point. But you have gained something that is infinitely more valuable: Credibility. If you will tell me anytime in the future that you actually found a group of people who can pass the dentist's chair test, I will take the next plane to the US, Italy, or wherever you are, to help you nail down your results. I'm not kidding you, Lacatosias.--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 14:58, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Bruno, do you actually DO anything else on this project except write and worry about this phenomenon of lack of an equivalent concept to mind in the German language? Let's grant that there is absolutely nothing equivlaent to this very specific and strange phenomenon in any other language on the face of the earth in the entite history of the world. What of it then? Does this somehow solve the mind-body problem? Is that what you're driving at? The fact that mind has no equivalent in the Germann langauge proves that eliminative metareialism, or non-reductive physicalism or type idenity theory is true? Is that the point of all this? You've settled the matter once and for all. Thank you. I'll inform everyone to stop worrying about the mind-body problem becasue mind doesn't exist in German ASAP.--Lacatosias 16:38, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Re DO. Yes, Lacatosias, there is no mind-body problem because mind doesn't exist in German. You said it. Basic concepts are universal. So if THE MIND doesn't "exist" in German, it cannot "exist" anywhere, and all the talk about it in English and Italian must be just that: Talk. Empty talk.
Now, what more could I have DONE on or for your project than make this point clear?
(A dead march. Exeunt, bearing off the bodies: after which a peal of ordnance is shot off.)
--BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 11:31, 13 March 2006 (UTC)