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© Michael Lacewing Is the mind the brain? Michael Lacewing

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1 © Michael Lacewing Is the mind the brain? Michael Lacewing

2 The options The mind is not the brain: it is a different thing, i.e. it can exist on its own without the brain (e.g. after death). (Substance dualism) The mind is the brain: they are completely identical. (Materialism/physicalism) The mind depends on the brain to exist: mental properties are properties of the brain, but they are not physical properties. (Property dualism)

3 Substances and properties Substances can have different sorts of properties Reductive physicalism: mental properties are physical properties Property dualism: mental properties are not physical properties Hmm…

4 Arguments for substance dualism Religious teachings Different essential properties –Descartes: The body essentially has parts, the mind has no parts. So they are different kinds of thing. Descartes’ argument from knowledge

5 Descartes’ argument What am I? I am a thing that thinks. I cannot doubt this, yet I can doubt whether I have a body. So I can be separated from a body.

6 Objection Just because Descartes can think of his mind existing without his body, this doesn’t mean that his mind really can exist without his body. Cp. I think the Masked Man robbed the bank; I don’t think my father robbed the bank; Therefore, my father isn’t the Masked Man. If ‘two’ things have different properties, then they really are distinct. But we can be mistaken about the properties of things. Perhaps there is a metaphysical connection between mind and body that Descartes doesn’t know about.

7 Parts and properties The argument that mind has parts assumes that minds exist as things that have properties. Materialists reject this – minds don’t exist, only mental properties (of brains) do.

8 The challenge of mental causation Descartes: mind and body are different kinds of thing. The mind is just thought, not in space; the body, matter, is just extension, in space. So how could one possibly causally affect the other? All physical effects have a sufficient physical cause. Nothing physical happens needs a non- physical explanation. Mental causes would violate the laws of physics, e.g. law of conservation of energy.

9 Mind-brain identity Ontological reduction: the things in one domain (e.g. mental things) are identical with some of the things in another domain. Reduction: this makes the ‘reduced’ domain more intelligible If mind = brain, then mental causation doesn’t violate of laws of physics and we can understand how it happens (usual physical way).

10 Jackson’s knowledge argument Mary, a neuroscientist, has never seen colour, but knows all about colour perception Mary doesn’t know what it is like to see red - so, although Mary knows all the physical facts about seeing red, there is a fact (of consciousness) Mary doesn’t know Therefore, properties of consciousness are not physical properties

11 Reply Mary doesn’t learn a new fact, but a new way of thinking about an old fact. She now knows the fact of what happens in the brain through introspection. On concepts and properties: the same fact (the glass contains water) can be thought of in different ways (the glass contains H 2 O).


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