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PSYC 211 Lecture Notes - Materialism, Phenology, Mutation

Course Code
PSYC 211
Yogita Chudasama

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PSYC211 Lecture 1 - January 9, 2012
The brain vs. the heart:
Brain is object of awesome power and a mystery
Mystery lies in that it controls almost all human functions
Some Ancient Greeks believed differently. For example, Empedocies and the
Chinese believed that the heart was where one’s emotions and thoughts resided
Aristotle believed the heart was the place where thought took place
The heart hypothesis has left a mark: love being symbolized by love, cupid,
“heartless”, “oh my blood boils”. Although not accepted scientifically, it did leave
What role does the mind play:
“Mind is the function of the brain” - true or false?
Does it control the nervous system?
Is it part of the nervous system?
Is it a physical entity?
Is it a spirit?
This is the crock of the mind-body problem. How is the physical brain related to the
non-physical mind?
Two main approaches to the Mind-Body Problem:
Monism: The mind and brain are the same thing; the mind is a phenomenon of the
working of the nervous system (i.e. the brain)
Dualism: The mind and brain (and body) are treated as separate; they are
fundamentally different. Religion played a great part
Leonardo Da Vinci found ‘sensus comunis’ (common sense). Was found to be
false, but helped start understanding that brain controlled behaviour
Rene Descartes: Mind-Body Interaction:
Descartes believed that:
Bodies were mechanistic
Mind decided movements of the machine
The body responded reflexively
The mind interacted with the brain via the pineal body
Animals do not have minds
If one gets burned, they move because of reflex, not because of the mind
Was first to link an interaction between the mind and the brain that took place in
the pineal body
Darwin and Materialism:
Materialism: Rational behaviour can be fully explained by the workings of the
nervous system without the need to refer to a nonmaterial mind
Natural Selection and Evolution:
Despite the diversity of living organisms, there are a number of similarities between
In all cases, these bones serve as the anterior limb of the animals body
In all cases, the bones have adapted to suit different functions
Functionalism: Characteristics of living organisms perform useful functions
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