Mind body problem.

Essay by artemka December 2003

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Mind body problem

One of the most intriguing questions with which philosophers, psychologists, and scientists have struggled has to do with the relationship of the body and the mind. Are people merely physical machines who respond only to physical stimuli? Is there actually a mind that is distinct and separate from the body? Are minds capable of surviving the death of the body? Are we more than material objects? In this paper, I want to explore some of the questions regarding this issue.

The mind-body problem is the problem of determining the relationship between the human body and its mind. Are our minds something different from our physical bodies? Suppose we think that the mind is a substance of some sort -- a mental substance. We might still ask: Is there some way to explain what the mind, a mental substance, is, in terms of physical substance? Or will we maintain that the mind is something totally different from physical bodies, and that we cannot explain what the one is in terms of the other at all?

Suppose instead that we deny that the mind is some mysterious substance, and we hold instead that there are only mental events and that "the mind" designates no more than a series of mental events? We can still inquire about the relation between mind and body in a different way, in terms of the relation between mental events and physical events.

We can ask: Are mental events totally different from physical events, so that you can't explain what mental events are in terms of physical events; or are mental events somehow explainable as being the same as physical events? For example, when John feels a pain, a mental event is occurring; now is that pain even possibly the same as something that occurs...