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Dualism Vs. Materialism

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Dualism vs. Materialism

In this paper I will talk about two perspectives regarding the never ending mind-body issue. When people think about this topic they immediately wonder how is it possible for a material mind to affect a non-material body and vice versa. This is one key topic when it comes to the philosophy of the mind; it studies the relationship between mind and matter, and the connection between consciousness and the brain. The main goal of philosophers studying this is to find out the origin of the mind along with mental processes and the body. Those two confusing points are part of the two main standpoints concerning the subject. The first main view is that of Dualism which can be thought of as something that is divided or unattached. In other words, it is the assumption that individuals have a spiritual mind that is super natural or with superior existence and brings about many things such as: our emotions and the things we know. The people that agree with this idea are called Dualists like the American philosopher, Thomas Nagel who you will read about later on. The other stance is that of Materialism which can be regarded as the mind and the body working together as a whole to perform certain functions. It states that everything in the universe is matter that does not have any real spiritual or intellectual existence since it cannot be seen or touched. The people who believe in this notion are called Materialists such as the American philosopher Daniel Dennett whose views will also be discussed in this paper. In my opinion, Dualism seems a bit out of this world, but I do think anything is possible and both Dualism and Materialism can bring about different mentalities to individuals.

Concerning the mid-body matter, Nagel (the dualist) believes that the current concepts of physics cannot truly explain consciousness and subjective experiences; that is, ones awareness of outer objects/forces or simply things inside ourselves; for example: in his article "what it is like to be a bat", he explains to us how bats actually behave based on observations and then he says that we can imagine how it might feel to be a bat, but in reality there is no way for us actually knowing because we are not bats. We might think it's disgusting to eat bugs and painful to sleep upside down, yet bats might in fact enjoy it. So to him, consciousness is the ability of people to have thoughts, perceptions, and feelings that do not necessarily have to be seen in order to be felt. But where does this arise? Well, that is the big question which to this date is being debated. "An organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism--something it is like for the organism" (Nagel par. 3). He assumes that concepts regarding mental states are obtainable to an intellectual who is familiar with their own states. Nagel also points out that consciousness comes about at several levels in animal life but that it is hard to observe its existence in simpler organisms, making it extremely complicated to generalize what provides its proof, yet it does exist even though it might come supernaturally. Nagel is open to mysteries and does not easily believe that everything can have an explanation because to him consciousness exists in places outside of our world that we wouldn't even imagine.

On the other hand, Dennett (the materialist) argues that the mind and the body go hand in hand by functioning together to let us feel emotions, have thoughts, and things similar to that. Also, he believes that the physical objects that surround individuals actually exist in the universe since they can be seen and touched and thus even those things are capable of having beliefs about the world. To Dennett, the brain is a syntactic engine which means that it is like a mechanism that makes meaning of the world. "Cognitive scientists and neurologists have produced mountains of evidence that changes in the structure or functioning of the brain-by brain injury, drugs, brain stimulation, and so on-produce changes in phenomenological experiences and cognitive functioning" (RB par. 2). Dennett is very much against mysteries because



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