I believe that the popular or "ghost in the machine" form of
substance dualism best solves the mind body problem. My views in this area have
been influenced by my twelve years of Catholic education. The soul, or mind,
depending on your level of belief, was a complete and separate entity and was
the center of a human being. The body was an ambulatory device that the soul
directed. The idea that the mind is a separate entity and that it is
independent of the physical body is the central point of substance dualism.
Churchland explains that substance dualism claims that the mind is
a distinct nonphysical thing, a complete nonphysical entity that is independent
of any physical body to which it is temporarily attached. Any and all mental
states and activities, as well as physical ones, originate from this unique
entity. Substance dualism states that the real essence of you has nothing to do
with your physical body, but rather from the distinct nonphysical entity of the
mind. The mind is in constant interaction with the body. The body's sense
organs create experiences in the mind. The desires and decisions of the mind
cause the body to act in certain ways. This is what makes each mind's body its
The popular or "ghost in the machine" form of substance dualism
states that a person is a "ghost in a machine", the ghost being the mind or
spirit and the machine is the body. Within this description, the mind/spirit
controls the body and is in intimate contact with the brain. The brain would be
the nexus between the mind and body.
The popular form of substance dualism was adopted after the
difficulties of Cartesian dualism could not be overcome. Rene Descartes stated
that the nonphysical and the physical could not interact. this became a problem
in dualism since the nonphysical mind needed to interact with the physical body.
These difficulties provided a motive for the move to popular substance dualism.
The first major argument for substance dualism is religion. Each
of the major religions place belief in life after death; that there is an
immortal soul that will survive death. This very closely resembles substance
dualism. The mind can be substit...
... middle of paper ...
...is by saying that since the mind is a separate
nonphysical entity and cannot interact with physical matter, it needs a focal
point to control the body from. This focal point is the brain. The mind and
the brain are so intimately intertwined any disruption of the brain will affect
The Final argument against substance dualism is evolutionary
history. The materialist states that human beings have been incrementally built
up from simpler physical creatures. This is evolution. Because this is a pure
physical process and the simpler creatures we were constructed from had no
nonphysical mind, there is no way to account for our mind. This is a difficult
argument to win. The only rebuttal I can give is that because we are a pinnacle
of evolution, we developed the nonphysical mind along with free-will and our
level of intelligence. This may be an extremely arrogant and proud view, but it
is the only one I can think of.
I believe that the strength of dualism's positive arguments
outweighs is detractions.
Churchland, Paul M. Matter and Consciousness. Massachusetts: The MIT Press,
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