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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

The Mind-Body Problem 1 The Problem First some terminology. Something is material if it is spatial and subject to physical law. Something is spiritual if (i) it is neither spatial nor subject to physical law and (ii) it has consciousness and intentionality. Finally, two things interact if they can causally influence each other. Now consider the following propositions: (1) The human body is a material thing. (2) The human mind is a spiritual thing. (3) Mind and body interact. (4) Spirit and matter do not interact. Note that these propositions jointly entail a contradiction. (1), (2), and (4), for example, jointly entail: (5) Mind and body do not interact. But that contradicts (3). To solve the problem, we must know which one of the four propositions to reject. The trouble is that each proposition enjoys a great deal of plausibility. • Why (1) is plausible: Our bodies certainly appear to be spatial and subject to physical law. The materiality of body is presupposed by medicine and the various life sciences. • Why (2) is plausible: Our minds do not appear to be in space or subject to physical law. Where in space is your belief that it is 2013 or your desire for coffee or your visual experience of your notebook? Our minds clearly have consciousness and intentionality. • Why (3) is plausible: Doesn’t taki
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