The Most Plausible Theory Of Mind Philosophy Essay
Do all dualists believe that there is two-way causal interaction between mind and body? Which version of dualism – Cartesian dualism, parallelism, or epiphenomenalism – is the most plausible theory of mind?
The theory of dualism is based on the separating of the body and the mind into two types of substances-material and immaterial or material and mental. Substance dualists hold the belief the mind consists of spiritual stuff not present in the material world, while the body consists of matter. Cartesian dualism or as is more commonly known today, interactionism claims that physical or material events cause immaterial events and that immaterial events cause material. This therefore brings the premise that communication between the mind and body creates the need for a two-way causal interaction between the material and immaterial worlds. Also present, are alternative forms of dualism: parallelism and epiphenomenalism which remove the present constraint of causal interaction within Cartesian dualism. In this essay I will explain the differing beliefs surrounding two-way causal interaction between mind and body, showing how I have come to the utmost conclusion that epiphenomenalism and parallelism simply cannot be plausible while Cartesian dualism or interactionism cannot be disproven.
Not all dualists possess the belief that there is a two-way causal interaction between mind and body. This two-way causal interaction is largely attributed to Rene Descartes and his theory of interactionist dualism. The interaction between the mind and body brings about many differing theories under the umbrella of dualism that can be explored, as two other prominent version of dualism also exist in that of parallelism and epiphenomenalism as I outlined earlier.
Now I shall present epiphenomenalism as a counter-intuitive theory and a most unappealing theory of mind to follow.
Epiphenomenalism is the second main form of dualism and it says that the material can influence the immaterial and the material but the immaterial cannot influence the material. The Immaterial world cannot cause ‘anything’.
When we express the belief of epiphenomenalism, epiphenomenalism itself says that the expression of that belief cannot be caused by the immaterial world; it must be caused by the material world. So, the very view of epiphenomenalism can only be caused by the material. Suppose you remove the immaterial component of epiphenomenalism, the way things happen are not changed. If the immaterial can’t cause anything, then how could the expression that the immaterial exists, surface in the material world? This makes it seem to me that epiphenomenalism is just neither viable nor plausible as a theory of mind due to the nature in which the causal relation from material to immaterial is essentially redundant.
A varying view to Cartesian dualism and is very far from the belief of two-way causal interaction between mind and body says that there is basically no connection whatever between any mental phenomena and any physical phenomena. This view is called parallelism. It says that mental and physical worlds exist, in two utterly separate realms, going on independently of each other. Mental events to a parallelist have no effect on any physical events, and physical events have no effect on any mental events. It can then be gathered that the causal link as explained by a parallelist is something of an illusion. If the two individual substances of body and mind are independent, then the suggestion that there is no causality between the two in light of obvious changes between both concurrently would be counter-intuitive. For this exact reason parallelism is a view that simply cannot hold me to be convinced as a theory of mind; it seems as if it is simply a third possibility of dualism but not a theory of mind that can be earnestly held.
When evaluating parallelism as a theory of mind it is also important to add that two forms of parallelism exist, Occasionalism and Pre-Established Harmony, the former stating that God intervenes at every moment to add appropriate mental activity to physical instances to sustain the illusion of causation, while the latter states that God started the two realms to run in perfect sync, with no inference. This gives the conclusion that a person of an atheistic background could not seriously consider parallelism as they rely on a higher being instigate the two realms of mind and body. Within a theistic perspective “once genuine interaction is ruled out one is best advised to allow that God creates the physical world directly, within the mental realm itself, as a construct out of experience” (Robinson, 3.3, http://stanford.library.usyd.edu.au/archives/win2008/entries/dualism/).
Next I shall give reason as to why Cartesian Dualism as a form of dualism clearly rises above and beyond epiphenomenalism and parallelism as a plausible theory of mind.
Interactionism as a prominent form of dualism presents that the body and the mind are separate as correspondingly being material and immaterial. The causal relation is that the body can influence the mind and that the mind can influence the body while also influencing themselves thus presenting a two-way causal relation. It can also be explained that mental events cause physical events and that physical events cause mental events .
I fear I am to digress but it is very important to add that of course a dualist has problems in his theory as for any material event there is a material explanation e.g. currents within the brain that cause bodily movements. So why as is present in dualism, present an immaterial causation of the event?
Flaws clearly exist in Cartesian dualism that lead one to epiphenomenalism as a result of the aforementioned example. Problems arise from the one directional causal relation from body to mind which may lead one to Parallelism. This again gives rise to a problem, in that of the assumption of a god as well as presenting that if God may cause material events-why not the explanation that ourselves and an immaterial mind causing these physical events.
A circular motion is quite clearly present and leads one to the conclusion of supporting Cartesian dualism as a theory of mind to be most conceivable.
When compared side by side to epiphenomenalism and parallelism, Cartesian dualism plainly is the most plausible theory due to the nature in which I have explained, that the former 2 theories can be disproven; while the crux of my argument lies in that Cartesian dualism may be justified due to an incapacity existing to disprove it as a whole. While Descartes theory of mind presents many inherent problems; as a form of dualism, it is the most plausible theory of mind.
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