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Mind Body Dualism


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Descartes starts by having a dream. When he wakes up from his dream,he has a need of differentiating between the real world and the dreamworld. He draws a conclusion of outside world and the way man seesit. This conclusion in the end draws him to self study. He cannotunderstand the difference between the real world and the dream onewithout knowing self. When he starts pondering over the issue, hestarts having doubts of many objects being in existence forinstance, furniture and many more. He doubts everything around himsince he thinks he can`t know if he is in the dream world or realworld. He concludes that he can doubt anything and every thing`sexistence. One thing he is so sure of is that he doubts. Inconclusion, Descartes doubts self existence. Self`s existence forDescartes becomes essential because the self is able to think. Hethinks that since he is the one doubting, is it reasonably means thateverybody and everything can be irrational apart from him. ForDescartes Self, the exit is not the body but the thinking content. Heconceives self as logic or self-awareness. This is the point wherebyDescartes reasoning comes to idealism (Sperry, 1980). He exchangeshuman matter with rationalism. For him, self can only know its ownexistence but nothing else. External or outside world can just be amisinterpreted perception of sense to self thus self is a prisoner toitself. He proves the presence of external world when he says thatperhaps God did not create the misinterpretation of the externalworld, but Satan did. Descartes thinks that his spirit and ego arenot similar to the body, because he thinks that his ego is connectedto self and this is what shows the existence of body. He also thinksthat there has to be a link between mind and body. Rationalism solelycan`t come up with ideas hence self is not enough for ideas becausethere has to exist a mind substance and a substance of extensionwhose pillar is God (Sperry, 1980).

On the other hand Hume rejects this concept by saying that ideas arewholesomely essential based on instinctive reasoning. No proof isneeded to understand substances. Hume says ego is a group ofperceptions. This is his definition of self, “a bundle ofperceptions of consciousness. Ego has no reality it is

Just an imagination.”

He doesn`t conquer with Descartes concept of `I doubt therefore Iam.` Hume states that self has perceptions as well as self is aperception in itself a bundle of it. It conceives other things bygiving attributes to these perceptions. There is no existence ofscience when it comes to Hume. Therefore, in contrast to Descartes,Hume conceives self as a bundle of perception conceiving one afteranother in a very fast manner that it cannot be perceivable.

Ryle was well known for his criticism of `Official Doctrine` of the`Cartesian Dualism` regarding the nature of mind. Ryle criticizesOfficial Doctrine through the book `The concept of mind`. Hefocuses on `category mistakes` that that mind philosophers are likelyto make when they see the reasonable form of “mental conductverbs”, particularly in case they use their beginning point the`Janus-faced account of human life` proposed by Cartesian perceptionof the mind. He blames the nature of mind by putting an emphasisbetween the behavior and mental assert as compared to his successors.When the examiners positions of Ontological version of the originalmind theory came out and said that in understanding behavioral gainand states of provocation, in a way they were sustaining Ryle`sstress on behavior whereas doing away with what they termed`explanatory vacuity` of abstract connection between mental state andbehavioral states. Ryle points out the craziness of OfficialDoctrine`s linguistic or grammatical outcome. He terms it as soabsurd. If mental conduct verb has

“occult” roots then people would not be able to use those verbsas they do. This means that there is something wrong with the theoryof the mind in the official Doctrine since it causes people`s eachday usage of these verbs to be insufficient. Because officialDoctrine says, “when someone is described as knowing, believing orguessing something, as hoping, dreading, intending or shirkingsomething, as designing this or being amused at that, these verbs are supposed to denote the occurrence of specific modifications in his(to us) occult stream of consciousness”.

He blames it by saying that if the view were correct, only favoredapproach to this way of consciousness could give credible accountthat these mental-conduct verbs were properly or wrongly applied.Alternatively, Ryle suggests beyond dualism, such as philosophy oflanguage and mind. He offers a solution of refusing the moto-cargomodel. The main weakness of this alternative is that the otherOfficial Doctrine`s ways are still in use up to date (Sperry, 1980).

In his essay, ` What is it like to be like a bat`, Nagel is trying toshow the importance of consciousness as well as subjective characterof experience. He argues that consciousness is a vital part ofmind-body problem since it is a person`s experience that cannot becrushed into nothing outside our individual comprehension. From hisessay of what is it likes to be a bat, a similar example can be shownof a person who was born blind. This person might have notion of whatlight is, through learning and studying but Nagel argues that withall the learning’s, this person will not be able to comprehend whatseeing is. He believes that the problem with all materialist theoriesof mind is consciousness and lack of experience in the theories.Nagel believes that there are some experiences that are absolutelyabove human comprehension. Nagel suggests that even though we candefine the work of neurons, we still don`t have important explanationfor consciousness. He argues that we might imagine just how to belike a bat but we can’t be really bats… That`s what just there animagination is! He identifies this form of subjective experience withconsciousness. Consciousness can either be there or not according tohis essay. What he is trying to say is that the nature ofconsciousness perhaps is greater than any kind of subjectivity.

Mind-body dualism is a vast topic. I believe that the mind and bodyare one since a mind cannot function without the body. These two aresomehow related in a way. The soul or mind and the body are unitedsince a human being is both body and soul or mind. Some philosophersthink that these two vital components of a human being are separate,but according to my view these two things are not absolutelyseparate. Traditional Christians believe that bodies and souls aretwo separate substances of a human being. This is because theybelieve when someone dies their soul remains or goes up to heavenwhereas the body rots. But have you ever seen these so called`souls`? When someone dies, both the body and the mind die along withthe person. All in all dualism in it as a whole is a complicated andvast subject that requires a very thoughtful treatment. MostChristians believe that the body and mind are separate. But the thingis, just because someone in the past said something, which may bemade sense then, does not mean it makes the slightest sense in thecurrent days.


Sperry, R.W. (1980). Mind-brain interaction: Mentalism, yes dualism,no. Neuroscience, 5 (2): 195–206.