The Mind/Boy Problem
Human being: conscious, experiencing subject, possessing a variety of mental states
Other living creatures have mental lives, though underdeveloped and rudimentary, many of
their minds are
Talking about the mind, describes the sorts of states, or events that make it up
These states comprise the stuff of your experience, and mental life, without which you,
would not exist as a person
We have a better grasp of physical occurrences taking place, rather than mental events
Also have an understanding of what further kinds of detail that need to be discovered and
how to do so (physical occurrences)
Experiences provide no insight regarding the nature of what takes place within us when we
think or when a part of our body is injured
What kind of medium do they take place in?
This leads to, and constitutes the mind/body problem
What is the nature of the mind, mental states, and events?
What is their mode of being?
Philosophers call this, the ontological question about the status of the mind
Ontology – Ontia ‘things that exist’
What constitutes mental states?
Physical vs. immaterial
It seems they must exist as someone’s, or some being’s, experiences
What is the nature of the possessor of mental states whose mental states comprise mental
Should they be conceived as existing over and above the experiences themselves or
constituted out of them (as a jigsaw is nothing over and above the pieces that make it up)
If subjects of experiences are different in kind from experiences themselves, and are not
reducible to them, are they non-physical or physical?
Can mental phenomena exist independently of physical phenomena or do they depend upon
them for existence?
Do physical states give rise to mental states, and if so how, since they seem so different?
Leibniz (1646-1716), machine enlarged to size of a mill
Dualism– the machinery of the brain can never explain the existence of mental states.
Instead, each of us has to be thought of as a non-physical entity, whose immaterial states
comprise our mental lives
Capable of existing in complete independence of anything else In life it is somehow attached to the body, affecting, and being affected by it, and will
separate at death
René Descartes (1596-1650) gave new, original powerful arguments in its favour
Referred to as ‘Cartesian dualism’
Materialism- dismiss the notion of a non-physical entity
The mind is nothing but the functioning brain
Mental states do not exist over and above physical processes
They are physical processes, only
Explaining brain processes, explains consciousness, because they are identical
The mind is one aspect or subset of material events
Mind/brain identity theory
Behaviourism - aforementioned theories are equally wrong
The mind is not a immaterial thing, nor the material brain
It is a pattern of actual and possible behaviour exhibited by humans and animals
Workings of person’s mind are not hidden behind their behaviour, but their embodiment
Functionalism – the mind is neither strictly mental or physical
It should be conceived more abstractly as a function, run on the hardware of the brain, which
transforms sensory inputs into behaviour outputs
Non-reductive monism – materialism is correct in rejecting the mind as non-physical, but
wrong in its refusal to acknowledge consciousness as a feature of reality that cannot be
reduced to purely physical processes
Aristotelians – humans are psycho-physical unities
Mental states are capacities whose vessels are neurological processes that make them, and
restore their causative powers
How can the mind, so different in nature from the body, affect it?
How can a non-physical thought affect the body’s response?
Do we have knowledge of the existence and nature of our own mental states, which we lack
in the case of others?
Can we ever know of the existence of mental states other than our own?
What makes someone in the present the same as someone in the past, despite changes
occurring to them?
What cannot be changed for the identity of the person to be preserved?
What causes this?
1.2 Approaching the mind/body problem:
What theory, if any, is correct?
1.3 Characteristics of Mental States: What are the features of mental states?
Are mental Phenomena all alike or are there crucial differences between them?
Is it possible to spell out the essential features of various types of mental states?
List mental phenomena or states
Sensations – pains
Cognitions – believing
Emotions – fear
Perceptions – seeing
Quasi-perceptual states – dreaming
Conative states – acting
1.3.1 Bodily Location:
Sensations have more or less bodily locations - Pain in your thumb
All the other states do not – Jealousy in your stomach
Bodily location of sensations cannot be understood the same we when speaking about
If we open up a thumb because someone felt pain, we will not find a thing
Sensations have a location only in the sense that they are whatever the person who feels them
truthfully report as being
1.3.2 Sensations and Awareness:
Pains and other sensations exist only when you are aware of them
Consciousness or Awareness of them is integral to their existence
Coins in your pocket exist whether you are aware of them or not
Would be self-contradictory to say that pain was in your foot, but you couldn`t feel anything
unpleasant going on in that part of your body
1.3.3: Non-sensational Sates and Awareness:
Examples of non-sensational states are provided by cognitive states
Have to do with understanding and thinking, and conative states (Latin Conatus – effort or
endeavour), which directly or indirectly concern acting, willing, trying, wanting, and
Contrasting with sensations, it is possible to have beliefs, knowledge, and understanding as
well as desires and intentions of which you are not conscious at a given instant
Ex. I intend to visit Romania, but I did not have the intention at the forefront of my mind
Beliefs, and knowledge are dispositional, rather than courante, as is the case with sensations
Many beliefs and knowledge not aware of at the moment To be attributed to me, I should bring them to mind if, and when needed
A sensation exists if and only when we aware of it
Emotions and moods are tricky
You must be conscious of your anger and aware of your feelings, but it is possible to be
angry with someone without constantly being aware that you are, and if continuing for days
your anger exists even during sleep
Emotions are dispositional
1.3.4 Qualia and Mental States:
Phenomenology of sensations, the way things seem to the experiencing subject
Each type of sensation having a distinctive qualitative feel
Philosophers invented a special technical expression to describe sensations as possessing
‘Qualia’ or ‘raw feelings’
No distinctive phenomenology associated with beliefs and other cognitive states such as
understanding and thinking
A belief the Royal Festival Hall is on the South Bank of Thames has no particular qualitative
look, and when affirming this belief, associated memories from visits stray into the mind
However, they are incidental to the belief and play no part in constituting it
Emotions are usually accompanied by feelings, they have distinctive phenomenology of their
Some cognitive states appear to have phenomenology associated
1.3.5 About ‘Aboutness’
Distinction between mental states that seem to be ‘about’, or directed upon, other states of
affairs, and those not
Sensations do not represent other possible states of affairs
Must be content to belief, something it concerns, whether or not anything actually
corresponds to that conte