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PHIL 1301
Nalini E Ramlakhan

th January 14 , 2014 Cartesian Dualism What is a mind? • Mind as a soul • Mind as part of the body (an emergent property) o A mind is present when a body is organized in a certain way o Minds no longer exist when the body dies • A mind is a brain How can we figure out what the mind is? • What sort or philosophical investigations can we do to figure out what the mind is? • What sort of scientific investigations can we do to figure out what the mind is? • What role does Philosophy play in answering such questions? o Most philosophers theorize about what a mind is, or about the relationship between the mind and the body o Experimental philosophy and Cog.Sci. theorize about what the mind is, but also carry out studies on the brain in an attempt to determines what the mind is o Studies in science are usually not in conflict with many contemporary versions of ‘mind’ o Philosophers don’t ignore evidence – which is a common misconception  Philosophers take the evidence from science and decide what to make of it • Ie. How should the findings be interpreted o Eg. some studies show eating breakfast is good for increasing your metabolism, while others show that there is no effect  What do you do with the evidence and how do you interpret it? o In Descartes time, science was not as advanced as it is now  Need to consider arguments that were relevant in the time he was writing  Also think about whether studies done today support this theory Descartes • Born in France (1556-1650) • Philosopher (metaphysician), mathematician, scientist • Major works: Discourse on the Method, Principles of Philosophy, and Passions of the Soul • In his day, he was known as one of the best mathematicians and as a philosopher who brought about a new form of metaphysics • After his death, his philosophical theories were widely discussed and he remained very influential th o In the 18 century, his theory on philosophy remained influential o Remembered, and still is, for his method of doubt and the formulation of the mind-body problem o In his schooling, he was exposed to the ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus) o Very religious and showed this in his philosophical work • Descartes believed that mind and body are two distinct substances that are intimately related o Mind: mental, non-divisible, non-extended o Body: physical, divisible, extendable Where do experiences happen? • Do experiences occur in the mind, body, or both? o If someone pinches your arm, where do you feel pain?  What about phantom pains?  Bodily pains may not necessarily need to have a corresponding mental sensation and vice versa • For Descartes, mental states are no spatial ->experiences do not need to have an exact location o Bodily states are spatial o Mental states are qualitative – recall our discussion last class on qualia  Neuroscientists cannot see your qualitative experience  What are the implications of this on ‘mind’? o Qualities of conscious experiences are unlike qualities of material objects o Mental qualities appear to differ from material qualities o From this, one can draw the conclusion that mental qualities are not qualities of material experiences • For Descartes, the knowledge that we have our stages of minds are direct and immediate o The knowledge that we have of our mental states are unchangeable in a way that our knowledge of material objects are not o For Descartes, we cannot doubt out mental states  You cannot doubt that you are thinking a thing o The fact that you are a thinking thing affirms your existence  “I think, therefore I am” • The mind is: o 1. Transparent: you have direct access to your mind  I you are in a particular state of mind, you know and cannot doubt that you are in the state o 2. Incorrigible: being in a mental state is thinking that you are in that state o Even if you deny that the mind is transparent, you cannot deny that only you have access to your mental state and experiences  Thomas Nagle, “What is it like to be a bat?” • Mental items are private, material objects are public o Material – spatial, public, material qualities o Mental – non-spatial, private, distinctively (different from one another’s) mental qualities  Everyone can observe material objects and have direct access to it  No one can observe your qualitat
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