Theories of Philosophy

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 197
  • Published : May 21, 2005
Open Document
Text Preview
When we view the philosophy of mind we encounter many problems, the main being that although there are many theories on this topic it is impossible to prove any of them and thus this problem is still unresolved. How is it that we can understand more about the universe and science than ever before but do not understand what it is that enables us to understand, that is the mind? To answer this rather complicated problem there are many solutions, or theories, each with their good points but none which are totally convincing, though some seem more though than others. These theories are Dualism, the belief that mind and matter are different substances, behaviourism, the belief that for every mental state you can observe a behaviour, physicalism, the belief that mind is brain, and functionalism, the belief that is something puts out the right outputs or acts like it ahs a mind then it is conscious. Added to this are the problems of whether other people have minds, and what constitutes personal identity. Each of these areas has its own arguments for and against and, it seems, is highly criticised.

The first theory in the philosophy of mind is dualism, which in basic terms, is the belief that mind is a different substance to matter. Dualists use Leibniz's law, if A = B then A must have the same properties as B, to argue that because matter is subject to the physical sciences while mind is not, then they must be different ‘stuff's. Mind and matter are also different in other ways. Firstly we can, to a point, locate a piece of matter in time and space and observe that piece of matter. But mind is totally different, you can't locate a though and it's generally believed that the mind is private and can't be observed. So you can easily conclude that mind is different to matter because they have different properties, A doesn't equal B. And because mind is some kind of substance, it can't be nothing, it only fits that there is two kinds of substances, mind and matter.

However although dualism is the most straight forward of the theories it is also one of the most criticised views. Critics of dualism generally use the problem of interaction to deny this view. Under this two bits of matter can interact because they are the same substance, but two fundamentally different substances, such as mind and matter, could not possibly interact. The problem is they clearly do interact. Dualists argue that is has not yet been proven that tow different substances couldn't interact and that we shouldn't use a lack of understanding to criticise dualism. Science is far form explaining everything.

Another argument against dualism is the masked man fallacy. Under this argument you could be at a party and see a masked man, who is actually you're good friend John. You know who John is but you don't know who the masked man is. According to Leibniz's law John and the masked man would have different properties and therefore could not be the same person, even though they are. This shows that we may know X (John in this case) under one description but not under another, and makes us se that some of the things we consider properties of an object are to do with how we perceive that object, (Mary thinks apples taste bad but Lucy doesn't,) and are not actual properties. You could say many of the properties that differentiate mind form matter could be described in this way, for instance we view minds as private but someone with telepathy would argue that minds are easily observable. So maybe by saying that mind is a different substance to matter we are making a category mistake. Could it be possible that mind and matter are the same substance, which has mental and physical properties? Other arguments to Dualism include the other theories themselves, including behaviourism. Behaviourists claim that for every mental state there is a behaviour which accompanies it. Some go further to claim that all mental states are in fact behavioural states. This talk of the...