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Examining each account, which, if any, of the following accounts of the mind/body relationship is the most convincing? Dualism, Identity Theory, Functionalism, Eliminative Materialism, Philosophical Behaviourism

Although it seems clear enough what we mean when we think of ourselves as possessing a body, what is the thing that we refer to as the mind? Whereas the body is tangible, visible and externally verifiable, the mind is highly personal, internal and unseen. That we do have a mind is almost certain, where it is located and in what form will be explored in the following. With reference to the two main competing theories of mind, Dualism and Monism, I hope to sketch out which is the most convincing theory based on the evidence we currently have at our disposal.

Dualism has had two main historical iterations; the first arose in Plato's Phaedo (1993) where the philosopher argued that true substances are not physical bodies but imperfect copies of the eternal Forms. The idea is a useful one, insofar as the Forms render the world intelligible in terms of what Frege called 'concepts' (2003) i.e., because, Forms are the grounds of intelligibility; they are the intellect must grasp in the process of understanding. The second iteration and modern origin of dualism was expounded by Descartes in his Medidtations (1996)and is the starting point of the contemporary mind/body discussion. Dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical, or the mind and the body, are in some sense profoundly different kinds of things. Because we intuitively realise that there are physical bodies, and because there is an intellectual pressure towards unifying our view of the world, one could say that materialist monism is the default option. Our discussion of dualism, therefore, will begin with the assumption of the reality of the physical world, and then consider why the mind might be considered simply as a part of that world.

Given all of the above, I see the biggest problem for monism as the problem of how it deals with qualia. This is most readily expressed using the knowledge argument. One form of this argument runs thus: John is a scientist. For some reason he has spent his life trapped in a room in which the only colours are black and white. He can watch television and use computers but the screens are all in black and white. Consequently, he has never experienced colour. He is able to access all the information he can via the Internet so he knows about how the eye works, what light is and what happens when it hits the retina. He knows what it means to say that 'the grass is green' and he has all the possible information that such a statement concerns. One day, John is released from his room and actually sees the grass outside and he learns something new, namely that qualia, or what-it-is-like-ness to experience colour. So, John had all the information about colour before he left his room and learned something new about it after experiencing the colour for himself. So it seems that there is something non-physical about information. This presents the strongest challenge to monism.

As far as Dualism is concerned, the biggest problem for this set of theories appears to be the explanatory gap between what we know about the physical world and what it is like to have an experience. Underlying this is the very real problem of pinning down the link between the material and the immaterial sides of the mind/body duality. I suspect that as neuroscience advances and we gain a more complete understanding of exactly how the brain works some of the more intractable problems of this debate will become more malleable. Until that becomes a reality. I remain convinced that the weak predicate form of dualism is the best tool we have to explain and understand our conscious experience. This is because it is the one most closely related to materialism in the sense that it does not posit an immaterial substance that we may never be able to detect and it seeks to reduce the problem of the duality of mind and body to a linguistic, rather than materialistic dualism. This view is attractive because, unlike property and substance dualism, it allies most neatly with an intuitively materialistic global ontology. Also, it sits well with the problem of multiple realisability and does not require one to make any counter-intuitive concessions in order to maintain one's position.

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