Mind and Body, Dualism vs Neuroscience

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Julien Bachir
The idea of the human beings having a soul, spirit or mind has long been used; although religions started using it four thousand years ago for different reasons, some people that simply had a thirst for knowledge started seeking a true answer to this question not that long ago. Indeed, this question has seriously been thought about and logically questioned in the last 400 years starting with Descartes who thought that human beings do have an immaterial mind (mind and body dualism). However, in the face of recent discoveries in neuroscience, it is not possible to maintain the theory of mind and body dualism as neuroscience has proved the brain to be the seat of mental faculties that are believed by dualist to come from the mind. First of all let us talk about mind body dualism in order to fully understand why it is now an obsolete theory. Dualists believe that the mind is non-physical and is separate from the brain which is physical. Moreover, they see the brain to be simply the location of where the mind operates (where the mind interacts with the physical world). Also, the body itself (brain included) is thought to have a different nature than that of the mind as one is physical and the other isn’t. On the other hand, we have physicalism. Physicalists think that everything that exists is physical and therefor what we call the mind does not exist as it is not physical. Descartes’ arguments for his mind and body dualism theory are however convincing if we ignore today’s recent discoveries and concentrate on philosophical reasoning; his first argument is that you can doubt everything in the material world but you cannot doubt that you are a thinking thing and exist. Let me explain this further: one of Descartes’ experiments was called Meditations. In his meditations he started assuming (for the purpose of his experiment and not in reality) that there was an evil genius that would deceive him on everything he though was true. Therefor everything he...
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