What Can Philosophy Contribute to Solving the Problem of the Relation to Mind and Body

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‘What can philosophy contribute to solving the problem of the relation to mind and body?’ – D.M.Amstrong. Within the article “The Causal Theory of the Mind”, Armstrong reasons philosophy is the account of ‘the most general nature of things and of man’. To demonstrate the concept of a mental state, Armstrong uses the analogy of a stone and human body. He does this by highlighting ‘the differences… lie solely in the extremely complex material… found in the living body and which is absent in the stone’. Because we have a brain we are different to the stone. It is this which determines ‘our consciousness and our mental state generally’. Armstrong emphasises the identification of mental states with physical states of the brain as ‘a perfectly intelligible one’, and that this is clear once we ‘achieve a correct view of the analysis of the mental concepts’. This is achieved through the ‘Causal analysis of mental concepts’. Armstrong uses an example of Poison. Poison causes an organism to sicken or die, and so acts in a certain way to produce an effect. The effects of a mental state will produce certain types of behaviour, for example hunger will bring about food-seeking. We can only characterise the purpose of behaviour by its outcome. Mental concepts are much more complex than causal notions (the example of poison). If we are to give a causal analysis of purpose, we must do this for beliefs and perceptions. As a result corresponding concepts must be introduced together or not at all, for example; no soldiers without an army, no army without soldiers. Introspective awareness and mental imagery are mental concepts. If causal analysis is correct, Armstrong states there is no warrant for this to be interpreted as ‘immateriality’. It may also explain the intentionality of mental states. For example a rocket may point towards a certain target, similar to the way in which purposes point towards objectives. As a result Armstrong believed causal analyses show promise of...
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