The ‘Sensation-Brain Process Identity Theory Essay

The ‘Sensation-Brain Process Identity Theory Essay

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The ‘Sensation-Brain Process Identity Theory’ posed by J.J.C. Smart is the view that a sensation is a just a brain process. In the strict sense of identity a sensation and a brain processes are two names for one thing. Similarly, the one thing people refer to when they talk about ‘the morning star’ or ‘the evening star’ is Venus. There exists only one physical component to this world from which we derive other statements like ‘the morning star is the last star you can see in the morning.’ ‘The morning star’ happens to be Venus. A sensation happens to be a process. A brain process more obviously is also a process. When we talk about sensations or a brain process we are talking about the same process. The one particular process being referred to ‘is’ in the strict sense a single thing like Venus. When we talk about a sensation or a brain-process we do so to designate one and the same component of living humans.
Assuming his existence, the name Superman picks out a particular individual. We can refer to this individual thing by the name Superman. Superman is just a name which picks out a particular guy who also happens to be referred to by another name Clark Kent. Superman and Clark Kent are strictly identical. The two terms refer to one thing i.e. a superhero alien who disguises himself as a nerdy reporter. Similarly brain-processes and sensations refer to the same thing. A sensation state is a state of a physical component. A Brain state is a state of a physical component. The very same physical component ‘is’ being referred to by reporting either sensation states or brain processes just like referring to the same alien by talking about ‘Superman’ or ‘Clark Kent’.
Smart does not think that Sensations are caused by brain processes...

... middle of paper ...

... it means to experience a lower than average amount of molecular kinetic energy. In the second case Smart would say the Russian peasant is referring to the amount of molecular kinetic energy in the Russian tundra. Smart uses the case of lightning as an example of this. People can talk perfectly well about lightning, but know nothing about electrical discharges. Smart on page 147 puts it as “Note that there are not two things: a flash of lightning and an electrical discharge. There is one thing, a flash of lightning, which is described scientifically as an electrical discharge.” In the illiterate peasant case, Smart thinks the peasant is talking about something which ‘happens to be’ identical in the strict sense to a brain process. The peasant is referring to a brain process in the same way as when people refer to electrical discharges when talking about lightning.

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