Coming into terms with the place of thought between the feelings that exist between the natural world and the general comprehension of nature and the relationship between the non-natural mental, non-physical phenomena is one that has since the beginning of time come to no conclusive answer. Throughout all of recorded history, there have been various representations of the disconnect between the corporeal and the spiritual, arising from the school of thought and the intuition that, for some reason, the mind is entirely untangled from matter. Thus said, the mind-body problem represents the relationship between the mind and the body of an individual, commonly seen as the central theme in the study of the philosophy of the mind, with regards to matters that arise out of the relationship that exists between the mind and the body (Davidson, 2007). Two arguments are offered in this regard. The dualism traced to the kinds of Plato, Aristotle, and René Descartes, argument offers that the mind is an independently existing entity, where matter cannot be reduced to a mere mind. The monism argument, on the other hand, argues that only one of these entities exists by the physical theory (McClamrock, 1995). Accordingly, the mind is a member of the physical theory, continually evolving in a world that is either mental in its own right, or a perfectly generated illusion of an unknown substance.
According to David Chalmers, in his 1997 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, the common sense of intuition and conscious experiences is distinct from any of the inanimate body relationships, which can ultimately be identified with the conscious self. Like Descartes, Chalmers argues that the mind is not an independently occurring physical being, agreeing that “nothing mental ever explains anything physical” (Chalmers, 1997). Chalmers contends that consciousness is a part of the “protoconscious” properties that are part of the omnipresent matter of the “physical laws” (Chalmers, 1997). Accordingly, there is nothing special about the cognitive faculties of education and memory- as they can be explained through physical sciences and physical phenomena- though there is no connection to the mind and the body. However, by constricting the mind to the conscious experience, the individuals’ cognition migrates to the physical body, though the mind and its consciousness cannot be explained by any of the current physical laws of nature. With the ambiguous association of the mind and consciousness, Chambers argues that the mind is not just a mere, conscious experience, arguing that there is more to the brain than simple consciousness.
Daniel Dennett, on the other hand, in his 1995 book, The unimagined preposterousness of zombies, offers that the mind arises out of the interaction between the physical and the non-physical parts of the brain, claiming that the brain holds salient details of the external world. According to Dennett, there is, in the ultimate analysis, nothing as fundamentally inexplicable as to how the mind and the body can be explained. His main argument is that the various properties that are attributed to the mind-body problem point to the fact that humans are not naturally inclined to act in a particular, “philosophical zombie” manner (Dennett, 1995).
In contrast to the validity of Dennett’s arguments, Chalmers argues that the proposal put forth by Dennett misses the point of the inquiry through the mere re-definition of the consciousness in a manner to subjectively ignore the aspects of the mind. While Dennett argues that there is no consciousness in addition to the physical mind, the conscious mind is illusionary, non-scientific, and non-physical, with no possible means of proving its existence. Additionally, while Dennett argues that consciousness can be explained through the use of science, Chalmers finds that science is lacking in this argument, explaining that “he cannot imagine what the explanation of the conscious mind would look like” (Chalmers, 1997). Chalmers is a materialist, believing that the conscious mind can be explained through the use of matter and conceding that some properties of the mind and consciousness are distinct and far removed from a physical explanation. Accordingly, consciousness, to him, “is not logically entailed by brain structure” (Chalmers, 1997). Even though the entire workings of the brain can be explained, through the connections of neurons and brain tissues, the consciousness of the mind cannot be explained through the simple, physical nature of the brain structure.
Chalmers, D. (1997). The Conscious Mind. London: Oxford University Press.
Davidson, D. (2007). Essays on Actions and Events. London: Oxford University Press.
Dennett, D. (1995). The unimagined preposterousness of zombies. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin Publishing Company.
McClamrock, R. (1995). Existential Cognition: Computational Minds in the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.