Neuroscience and Dualism

Topics: Mind, Soul, Brain Pages: 9 (3157 words) Published: October 15, 2008
Why has the gap between science and the spirit become so broadened? Why have we escaped the desire to explain natural phenomenon on a spiritual stage? Further, what is it that would make one take a comprehension of neuroscience and turn that knowledge into a device used to disprove the existence of a soul? What if neuroscience is the natural but spiritual structure of what makes human consciousness possible? Can that be disproved? For me the answer is no and the linkage between these two ideas is only rational to consider. When you ponder what exactly it is that creates the autonomous characteristics of our being, you may find yourself, as I did, confused that there exist a difference between these two ideas to begin with. One may say that our soul consists of our consciousness or the ability to rationalize, use proper reason, and make knowledgeable decisions based on what we know to be right or wrong or good or bad in any situation we may face. These decisions may be viewed as being based on former experience or simply on innate ideas and common knowledge of life.

We know it to be true that the causation of these ideas are only possible due to the electricity and energy that our brains harness and isolate to certain areas to create the formation and understanding of certain concepts. The primary scientific knowledge that this occurs has given rise to a theory that we, ourselves, are not responsible for any thinking or decision making at all but are the result of our unconscious mind transmitting the messages of firing neurons to either support or negate actions to be taken in any given instance. In other words, we are hardwired to be exactly whom and what we are. In this view, the only thing that has constructed our lives is the experience we have attained and learned from since childbirth.

There exist an opposite view to the former, which has been around much longer. We may explore the concept of a soul and what exactly constitutes such a thing that creates a massively dividing opinion of the nature of the mind. Many qualities have been presented throughout thousands of years and millions of human minds and opinions. Some see ethics as the separating factor. They may say that our desire and willingness to do what is morally right over an action that might possibly be beneficial for one’s self is a primary demonstration of a soul at work. For most, as with the first view, it is seen as simply our ability to rationalize and reason and to make intelligent decisions. Many may argue that it might be constituted in our ability to transcend sensual desire, eliminating the animal within.

The nature or essence of the human soul has been in question since the very earliest periods of foundational philosophical thought. This is the reason that questions of this category, pondering the very basic principle of our reality, have been given the title of first philosophy. In choosing a structured philosophical work to display a most urgent but seemingly rational and well-organized idea of mind/body dualism, there was no question, for me, as to which philosopher’s concepts I would focus my attention. Rene Descartes is viewed by many to be the father of modern philosophy because of the radical skepticism that encompassed his ideals. Though the dialogues of his doubt can seem to travel close to the boarders of insanity, it is certainly clear that Descartes knew exactly where his ideas on perception in reality would eventually lead him. Although these are challenges that will never likely exist in the minds of most all people, anyone may be susceptible to skepticism while reading this man’s work. No matter how much one may agree or disagree with his principles, there is no doubt that Meditations on First Philosophy was a revolutionary set of ideas that established a modern school of rationalist thought and a modern school of empirical thought to oppose it.

While most everyone around Descartes was...

Bibliography: Cress, Donald A.,Trans. “Meditations on First Philosophy: Third Edition”. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 1993.
Damasio, A.R. “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain”. New York, NY: Avon Books, 1994.
Kandel, Eric. “Autobiography: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2000”. Availible from Internet accessed on 25 September 2008.
Lebedev, M.A. “Brain-Machine Interfaces: Past, Present, and Future”. Availible from Internet accessed 26 September 2008
Schmultz, Tad. “Rene Descartes”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Summer Edition, 2002.
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