A Comprehensive Examination on Philosophy of Mind

A Comprehensive Examination on Philosophy of Mind


Modern philosophy places a lot of emphasis on mental health issues. While philosophers tend to focus on more general concerns such as what is the nature of the mind, such as whether it can be found in any creature or thing, their colleagues in the fields of psychology, neurology, and cognitive ethology conduct empirical scientific studies of the mind. Philosophers frequently focus on issues like: What is the relationship between the mind and body? & How are mental processes like believing, knowing, perceiving, thinking, willing, comprehending, and so forth to be understood? Philosophers also inquire about the nature of consciousness and the self, as well as how these concepts relate to the ability to speak.

Historical Background

Most people agree that ancient texts do not contain the question “What is mind?” with all of its contemporary implications. The question first becomes evident in René Descartes’s (1596–1650) intellectual writings. Philosophical and psychological research has been conducted in tandem for centuries. The Greek word psyche, which is now translated as “soul,” is where the word psychology originated. Psyche is linked to breathing in very early texts, and losing it is supposed to cause either unconsciousness or death. Plato (c. 428–348 or 347 b.c.e.) believed that the soul was simple and eternal in his writings. The soul, and specifically the rational nous, is what perceives the Forms and regulates the body’s passions during life.  

The foundation of awareness Is examined in the philosophy of mind. The philosophy of the mind examines questions about the nature of consciousness, the relationship between the mind and language, and whether or not the mind and the brain are the same. Psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics empirically explore brain function. For instance, qualia—a term for the lived experiences we have and are aware of, including pain—is taken into consideration by philosophers of mind.

Application of Philosophy of Mind 

The real world is relevant to philosophy of mind. For example, ideas from the philosophy of mind are crucial to computer scientists’ considerations on how to establish if a machine possesses artificial intelligence. Pentti Haikonen, a technologist, disagrees with Merleau-Ponty and contends that a robot with sensors that could interact with the outside world could achieve artificial consciousness; in other words, artificial consciousness requires a connected body in addition to an electronic brain. The study of psychology began with Aristotle (384–322 b.c.e.) and his more biological emphasis; nonetheless, the discipline was not clearly defined until the late nineteenth century. The concept of the soul as a living body, with distinct characteristics in plants, nonrational animals, and human creatures, is found in Aristotle.

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Questions about humans are pertinent to philosophy of mind. Scientists who edit the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases, which names and characterizes mental diseases and their typical symptoms, define what constitutes mental illness. How can one distinguish between a state that is an example of pathology and one that is a healthy psychological diversity? Philosophical debates on how individuals should be classified and treated are sparked by this controversy.

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Components of Philosophy of Mind

Using a few key concepts, the philosophy of mind encompasses the following fields: metaphysics (the study of reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, aesthetics (the study of beauty), philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.

Mind-body problem

A philosophical conundrum about the interaction between cognition and consciousness in the human mind and body is known as the “mind-body problem.” The relationship between the concepts of the body and the mind is not immediately clear. For instance, people cry (a bodily condition) when they are experiencing sadness, which is a mental experience. Laughing is another physiological state that results from finding a joke hilarious, which is a mental event. Painful mental experiences lead to avoidance behaviours in the body, and so on. 

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Dualism and Monism

Dualistic and monistic psychological theories are used to describe human nature and the relationship between the body and the mind. While monism holds that both mental and physical events are simply various manifestations of what is the same Reality, dualism teaches that Body-mind are two truly distinct concepts. We have Ultra-Dualism and Moderate Dualism based on the nature of the conflict and mutual independence attributed to the two principles by various scholars of the former school. Plato and Descartes belong to the previous type; Aristotle and the main Scholastics belong to the latter. We will postpone further comparing the two varieties of dualism for the time being because they both teach the spirituality of the soul.

Consciousness: What characteristics are necessary for self-awareness and how to assess if a creature possesses them are ongoing topics of discussion.

Qualia: The structure and chemistry of the brain cannot be used to explain subjective qualitative states.

Concepts are general terms like “dog” that transcend specific experiences.

Propositional attitudes are a person’s beliefs, desires, or imaginations on the subject matter of a sentence.

Intentionality: Thoughts contain content, they also serve as the foundation for choices and deeds. Intentionality is the relationship between our thoughts and our actions in the world.

Neural Set: A physical system, whether biological or artificial, that is capable of performing cognitive tasks like computation and inference is called a neural net.

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Consequences of Philosophy of Mind 

The concepts established in the philosophy of mind have an impact on an infinite number of topics. We would be obligated to attribute specific characteristics of the brain to the mind if physicalism were accurate, even though we already know a great deal about the nature of physical bodies. Given that brains are divisible and destructible, for example, if the mind were the brain, then the mind would also be divisible and destructible (in fact, Descartes’ conviction that the mind was not divisible and destructible was one of his primary arguments against physicalism, as discussed above).

In this context, it is important to emphasize two points: the nature of the self and the freedom of the will.

Free will

In the context of the philosophy of mind, the question about the freedom of the will takes on a renewed intensity. This is certainly the case, at least, for materialistic determinists. According to this position, natural laws completely determine the course of the material world. Mental states, and therefore the will as well, would be material entities, and so completely determined by natural laws.

The idea of the self is significantly impacted by the philosophy of mind as well. If the term “self” or “I” refers to a fundamental, unchangeable core of the individual, then the majority of contemporary philosophers of mind (who embrace physicalism) will say that there isn’t such a thing. Historically, the concept of an immaterial soul and the concept of a self have been linked (Descartes, for example, distinguished the two). Apart from the scepticism stemming from physicalism, other philosophers also echoed David Hume’s doubts about the very basis of our introspective belief in the existence of such an entity.

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While Concluding, The study of mental problems has energized the field of mind research in the early 2000s. Understanding the various ways that the mind might malfunction can help us better understand the subject we are studying. Each of us knows the mind most intimately, but it is also the most enigmatic and difficult concept for us to comprehend. Even if the human mind continues to be the most advanced, it is unclear whether it is representative of anything continuous or discontinuous when compared to other creatures and machines.

Even if materialism is the prevailing culture, it is important to remember Descartes’ and other thinkers’ insights, which make it challenging to comprehend how a body alone can generate the different activities we associate with it. The history of the mind is the story of human endeavours to provide a comprehensive explanation for our experiences, perceptions, ideas, emotions, and so on in connection to the physical world.

References +
  • Philosophy of mind | Definition, Summary, Examples, Philosophers, & Facts. (2024, February 9). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/philosophy-of-mind/Rationality
  • Philosophy of mind – by branch / Doctrine – The basics of Philosophy. (n.d.). https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_philosophy_of_mind.html
  • Philosophy of mind – Conclusion. (n.d.). https://science.jrank.org/pages/10721/Philosophy-Mind-Conclusion.html

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