Dualism Essay

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‘Is the mind exactly the same thing as the brain? Explain and justify your answer.’

The mind, or ‘soul’ as it has come to be known to some, is classified as a ‘non-physical entity’ that is separate from the brain by Cartesian Dualists and linked to (but still different from) the brain by Property Dualists. These are perfectly reasonable ways to look at it as such concepts as qualia and privileged access and the fact that mental phenomena lack spatial features support these theories. While Materialists may doggedly reject Dualism, it can be noted that some of their arguments are by no means iron-clad, including their trump card, the ‘interaction problem’. Also, Materialistic arguments fail to address and explain our mental experiences taking up no space, our privileged access and the phenomenology of our mental lives that cannot be explained by Materialism alone.

A very important concept to consider in favour of Dualism is that the mental and the physical seem to have quite different and perhaps irreconcilable properties. Mental phenomena have a certain ‘raw feel’ to them, whereas physical events seem not to. For example, explaining what the blueness of the sky looks like or what nice music sounds like could not be done easily as there are subjective aspects, also known as ‘qualia’, about them. There is something that it's like to feel pain, to see a familiar shade of blue and so on. There are qualia involved in these mental events and these qualia seem particularly difficult to reduce to anything physical, implying that there is something more than just a physical sensation. After all, how could a lumpy, squishy mass of brain generate such complex mental phenomena as falling in love, or admiring an art masterpiece? Thomas Nagel first characterised the notion of qualia in his article ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ and he argued that even if we knew everything there was to know from a third-person, scientific perspective about a bat's sonar system, we still...
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