The Movement Away from Dualism Towards Monism

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Tony Gailani

The Movement Away From Dualism Towards Monism

The mind–body debate has been a historically prevalent topic with two prominent schools of thought that have polarized these conversations into the dualism and monism categories. Dualism describes the mind as being a distinct entity that cannot be directly linked to the physical brain whereas monism describes the mind as completely defined by the physiological neuroscience of the brain. Whether there exists a mind as a separate entity from the physical biology of a human being has been a point of controversy for ages. With the advent of modern science in the field of biological research, some of these questions have been addressed. With increased research into the field of neuroscience, the relationship between human cognition as it relates to the brains physical structure has been better established. It is understandable that dualism may have been the most prominent argument in the past as an explanation to the phenomenon of human cognition but recent research has supported the position of monism. Modern science has allowed for scientific experimentation that supports the monistic relationship of the mind and body by allowing visualization of mental cognition and neurological development through CAT scans, MRIs and other various scientific experimental techniques.

The irrational component of human nature chooses to explain concepts which are beyond the comprehension of the times with explanations that cannot be held to the rigorous testing of scientific analysis. People cannot explain creation so they denote it to a distant God who is beyond our compression. Whether an almighty creator exists is up for debate but this issue can never be proven or disproven based on scientific standards of proof. The concept of God addresses not only human curiosity about their origin but it also attempts to end an argument regarding an unexplainable phenomenon with a semi-logical explanation. Dualism follows a similar format as the religious explanation to human creation by attempting to address the argument about human cognition with the concept of a metaphysical mind that is not a physical substance that can be held to the standards of experimental analysis. “According to Descartes, the mind is the soul. The doctrine that mental states are states of an immaterial substance that interacts with the body is called Cartesian dualism” (Schick, p. 73). The philosophers of the past created dualism as an explanation for a quality that distinguishes human beings from other animals. The wide array of neuronal activities that produce thoughts, emotions, learning and decision-making are enhanced mental functions that have only been observed amongst human beings at such advanced levels. Through simple dissection, it appears that all animals posses a similar physiology which raises the question about how similar physiologies produce not only the similar simplicity of most animals but yet amongst them there exists the human race which is by far cognitively superior. In order to address this question, the dualism theory describes a separate component entitled as the mind that only humans posses as a distinct entity from their physiology that explains the superiority of human beings. “…Descartes’ belief that thinking could not be a physical process led him to conclude that it must be a nonphysical one” (Lewis, p.73). Dualism may have once been a rational idea that appealed to the intellectuals of the time but modern scientific research depicts a different reality. In depth analysis and imaging techniques can allow people to visualize the precise differences that distinguish the human brain. Upon deeper analysis, it is evident that the physiology of humans in comparison to other animals is not as similar as some may have once believed based on pedestrian scientific dissections and methodologies. This denounces the concept of dualism as an entity distinct from the human brain as an...
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