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Mind

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The mind has been an object of study for thousands of years. The mind-body or mind-brain problem is approached within philosophy of the mind but more generally metaphysics. It is the study of the relationship between mental phenomena and the bodily or brain basis of those phenomena. Creationists hold to a dualist view of the mind-body problem so that the mind is distinct from the human body or what should be referred to more specifically as the brain. Also, the mind within the disciplines of philosophy and psychology is usually used as a synonym for the word soul which carries more of a theological connotation.

Our minds and brains definitely seem to be distinct. This common sense judgment is reinforced by many religious traditions. For example, many theists believe that after their bodily death, minds or something much like incorporeal minds – souls – will survive even as their brains start to rot away with the rest of their bodies. So it looks like there are lots of considerations driving the idea that no mind is a brain and no brain is a mind. But is that right? If it is, then what really is their relationship? Surely they have some special relationship.[1]

Contents

Mind-body Problem

The brain is clearly a physical thing, it has tangible, corporeal properties, it can be seen, weighed, measured and the like using scientific instruments. Yet the mind, the realm of the mental which houses specific thoughts like the color red or anything your imagination can capture, is different than the brain within the creationist worldview. Thoughts cannot be seen, weighed or measured by external persons. There maybe material activity in the neuron connections of the brain while a person does think about the color red, but to the scientific investigator it will be complex read-outs of raw data. It can only conclude that brain wave activity in a particular spot on the brain happened when a person thought of something. No matter how much data is derived from brain activity alone the scientist cannot conclude the color red. It rather shows connectivity of the mental to the physical brain through complex networks of thoughts and neuron physiology.

A common sense human experience is that the mind is abstract. It is first-hand knowledge gained by introspection on the mind, a personal experience on a constant basis. Witnessing intense and vivid images and concepts within the mind it becomes clear that it is a private experience by individuals. Dualism gives the mind stark contrast when compared to the brain. On the other hand, the public or scientific experimentation of the brain is second-hand. In this mode of observation of the mind-body problem, the practice essentially produces and critically analyzes wave-like patterns of lines that represent actual brain activity.

Monists in distinct opposition to a dualist view, hold that both the mind and the brain are purely physical. Materialism underpins and provides the fundamental view of the mind-body problem. Accordingly the human mind is nothing but the activity of complex biochemical processes happening in the brain. When a person dies physically their mind ceases to exist because it to is reduced to matter.

Randall Collins in The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change writes about ideas or thoughts in the context of intellectual history. Collins states that ideas only beget ideas and then articulates Leibniz classic philosophical argument for the position.

The strongest argument against treating ideas in terms of anything other than themselves was put forward by Leibniz and restated by Searle. If one imagines a human brain enlarged to gigantic size, Leibniz says, and oneself entering among the machinery, one will see nothing that resembles an idea, no matter how closely one examines the structures of the brain (Monadology 17).[2]

Monism vs. Dualism

Does the human mind consist of the activity of our brain, or does the mind transcend matter, being the spiritual component of our being? The two views on this philosophical question are known as Monism and Dualism. It is impossible to distinguish between Monism and Dualism simply by studying brain functions and associated neurophysiology. The main question is: can the existence of the soul be empirically and objectively studied? It turns out that in the early 20th century a study was done that provides objective empirical evidence for the soul. The main assumption of the study was that the soul would have mass. The study found when a human dies there is a small sudden loss of mass that cannot be accounted for by a final exhalation or loss of bodily fluids.[Reference needed]

Monism

Main Article: Materialism

Monism is essentially materialism and so it is the view that dominates contemporary mainstream science. Monism's dominance is not because it fits observation any better than Dualism but because it is the only view allowed by absolute materialism. Regardless of what personal experience is with the mind or even the observational data, it will be interpreted in terms of a completely physical or material cause. This is the case because of institutional encouragement of philosophical bias that maintains if conclusions are not derived from within accepted philosophy than the research will most likely not be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The result is that when brain activity is associated with a certain biological behavior or mental memory, it is interpreted as the brain is the only cause. This is then used to support and enforce Monism as the dominant and only acceptable view regarding the mind-body problem.

Dualism

Main Article: Dualism

Dualism in the more theological sense is a religious outlook that claims that the world is influenced by opposing forces of good and evil that are of approximately equal strength. In the academic philosophical sense dualism has to do more specifically with the nature of relationship between the mind and the brain.

References

  1. John W. Carroll and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press 2010), pg. 134-135
  2. Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (Harvard University Press, Fourth Edition 2002), pg 1
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