I believe that the popular or “ghost in the machine” form of substancedualism best solves the mind body problem. My views in this area have beeninfluenced by my twelve years of Catholic education. The soul, or mind,depending on your level of belief, was a complete and separate entity and wasthe center of a human being.
The body was an ambulatory device that the souldirected. The idea that the mind is a separate entity and that it is independentof the physical body is the central point of substance dualism. Churchlandexplains that substance dualism claims that the mind is a distinct nonphysicalthing, a complete nonphysical entity that is independent of any physical body towhich it is temporarily attached. Any and all mental states and activities, aswell as physical ones, originate from this unique entity. Substance dualismstates that the real essence of you has nothing to do with your physical body,but rather from the distinct nonphysical entity of the mind.
The mind is inconstant interaction with the body. The body’s sense organs create experiencesin the mind. The desires and decisions of the mind cause the body to act incertain ways. This is what makes each mind’s body its own.
The popular or”ghost in the machine” form of substance dualism states that a personis a “ghost in a machine”, the ghost being the mind or spirit and themachine is the body. Within this description, the mind/spirit controls the bodyand is in intimate contact with the brain. The brain would be the nexus betweenthe mind and body. The popular form of substance dualism was adopted after thedifficulties of Cartesian dualism could not be overcome. Rene Descartes statedthat the nonphysical and the physical could not interact. This became a problemin dualism since the nonphysical mind needed to interact with the physical body.These difficulties provided a motive for the move to popular substance dualism.The first major argument for substance dualism is religion.
Each of the majorreligions place belief in life after death that there is an immortal soul thatwill survive death. This very closely resembles substance dualism. The mind canbe substituted for the immortal soul.
In fact the two are almostinterchangeable. This argument is primarily the basis for my own belief insubstance dualism. My personal experiences as a religion student give me insightinto this argument.
The second major argument for substance dualism isirreducibility. This points to a variety of mental phenomena that no physicalexplanation could account for what is going on. An example would be the qualityand meaningful content of human thoughts and beliefs. These things cannot bereduced to purely physical terms, hence irreducibility. This is also anothergood argument that I can understand from personal experiences. I cannot reducemy reactions and feelings toward how a steak tastes to a mathematical equation.This is the same idea.
The final argument for substance dualism isparapsychological phenomena. Mental powers such as telepathy, precognition,telekinesis, and clairvoyance are all near impossible to explain within theboundaries of physics and psychology. These phenomena reflect the nonphysicaland supernatural nature that dualism gives to the mind. Because I believe inthese phenomena, it seems logical to me that parapsychology is an excellentargument for substance dualism. These arguments give a good basis for aphilosopher to believe in substance dualism. However there are also seriousarguments against it.
The first major argument against dualism is simplicity.Materialists state that because their view is simpler (they only believe in onething- that which is physical) it is more rational to subscribe to their view.The materialist point of view is also easier to prove because there is no doubtthat physical matter exists, while nonphysical matter is currently a hypothesis.This argument seems very illogical to me. Philosophical views should be chosenbecause one makes more sense to you, not because one has a smaller number ofideas within it. The second major argument against substance dualism isexplanatory impotence.
Materialists can explain anything physical throughscientific study, whereas dualists can explain nothing because no theory hasever been formulated. Churchland says, “…dualism is less a theory of mindthan it is an empty space waiting for a genuine theory of mind to be putin”. I see one flaw with the materialist theory here. The mind in thedualist theory may use a form of energy transfer not yet discovered by science.Centuries ago, undiscovered forms of science were refuted and called”magic”.
In the future, The mind may become completely understood byscience. The third argument against substance dualism is neural dependence. Thatthe mental capacities depend on the brain’s neural activities. The materialistsshow that the mind is altered when the brain is altered by drugs or injuries. Iwould explain this by saying that since the mind is a separate nonphysicalentity and cannot interact with physical matter, it needs a focal point tocontrol the body from.
This focal point is the brain. The mind and the brain areso intimately intertwined any disruption of the brain will affect the mind. TheFinal argument against substance dualism is evolutionary history. Thematerialist states that human beings have been incrementally built up fromsimpler physical creatures. This is evolution.
Because this is a pure physicalprocess and the simpler creatures we were constructed from had no nonphysicalmind, there is no way to account for our mind. This is a difficult argument towin. The only rebuttal I can give is that because we are a pinnacle ofevolution, we developed the nonphysical mind along with free-will and our levelof intelligence.
This may be an extremely arrogant and proud view, but it is theonly one I can think of. I believe that the strength of dualism’s positivearguments outweighs is detractions.BibliographyChurchland, Paul M. Matter and Consciousness. Massachusetts: The MIT Press,1994Philosophy