The body can be defined as the whole physical or the main part of a human being or animal (Borst 65 ). On the other hand, the mind is considered to be or is defined as the part of a human being which desires, reasons, thinks as well as feels. It is the consciousness of a human being (Borst 43).
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Dualism is a notion or a concept believed by individuals who consider the mind to exist independently from the body and continues to live on after one passes away. It posits two equally powerful principles which explain our experience of the world in general (Devitt 88). Dualism predicts that the brain and mental functions will not always correlate since they are not one and the same (Borst 50).
Mind-Body Dualism is whereby it is believed that the mind and the body are totally separate and different entities, which are not related in any way or which are not the same (Devitt 45). It depicts that as brain functions are interfered with, the mind will not necessarily be affected or altered with. Biblically, this concept appears to be true in that man was formed with a soul, that is, the mind, and a body, even though philosophy teaches or tends to show the differences between the mind (soul) and the brain, also referred to as matter (Borst 57).
The distinction between the body and the mind can be traced back as early as the 16th Century, where a French Philosopher, René Descartes (1596 – 1650) gave an account of how the body and mind relates (Descartes 62). According to him, the mind was a completely separate entity from the body though they could affect or communicate with each other, via the pineal gland, which he believed to be the only organ in the brain that was uniquely human (Russel 99). When an individual performs meditation for instance, he/she becomes aware of and understands the mechanisms that unify both the mind and the body.
Ancient Greeks believed that the soul of the human being was of a completely different essence than his/her body (Borst 100). The two were considered to be of primarily different nature, for instance, the division of the body could be done by the removal of a limb, but the soul remained inseparable (Devitt 76). The body is essentially complete while the mind is non-extended, meaning that the mind could and can exist without the body (Borst 67).
An example is given of a certain Dr. Adrian Owen and his colleagues of Cambridge, who carried out an experiment on a woman who was said to be in a vegetative state, to prove the existence of Mind-Body Dualism (Devitt 50). The woman had no consciousness whatsoever. In the course of the experiment, the researchers asked the woman to imagine herself either walking around her house or see herself playing a game of tennis (Descartes 88). An fMRI tested the understanding of the brain apart from the mere reflex to sounds. The two sets of thoughts laid before her showed that she was capable of thinking and this was measured and reflected on the fMRI (Descartes 90). Random, or rather, nonsense words were also uttered during the test to make it more effective.
Also, during the experiment and at the same time, a group of volunteer individuals was selected and the same test carried out on them. The results observed were that both the fMRI responses and patterns of both the vegetative woman and the group of volunteers were exactly the same (Borst 64)! This meant that she understood and complied with the wishes of the researchers, despite her vegetative state.
Mind-Body Dualism can also be seen in the case whereby an individual’s corpus-callosum or the main nerve tract found between the two brain hemispheres is damaged (Devitt 76 ). Given different conditions or situations, the individual tends to behave strangely. For instance, he/she might tend to show understanding of information relayed to him/her on the right side of his/her eyes by responding with the limbs on the right side of his/her body, and vice versa (Borst 69). As a result, one can ascertain that either the damaged corpus-callosum has created two individuals or the individual is still the same but he/she can only interpret and express certain information in a certain kind of way.
The theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin depicts that all living things including human beings emerged from lifeless, unresponsive matter (Devitt 56). Dualism tends to show otherwise. It is considered that atoms cannot and do not have the power to fabricate souls as shown in the Evolution theory. Souls are so different from particles and waves, given the inclusion of sensation and thoughts, that there cannot be a theory which best explains their interaction (Russel 35). Dualism illustrates that the soul is a substance, the essential part of a person, which has properties like feelings and thoughts (Borst 100). Therefore, it can be comfortably said that it is God who forms anew each new soul and thus the concept of dualism (Descartes 75).
In the recent years, scientists have discovered the fascination of cloning. Mind-Body Dualism concept can undeniably apply in such cases whereby the cloned individual might physically look exactly like or rather, copyrightly resemble the original person but might differ in some ways through the way he/she thinks and reasons (Borst 87). These instances have been depicted on several occasions in films/movies, for example, Terminator, Face/Off and The Island. Though the body might be the exact duplicate of the original person, the mind might tend to think, act and feel totally different from the way the original person does, and vice versa (Devitt 98). The clones might turn out to possess vices or virtues completely opposite of their originals.
In conclusion, though scientists might try to deny the existence of dualism and the concept of Mind-Body dualism as a whole, it is quite evident from the examples given above that it does exist and is in every way practical. Dualism posits two equally powerful and aggressive principles envisioned as dichotomies for instance attraction and repulsion, darkness and light, love and strife as well as good and evil.
Borst, C. V. The Mind/Brain Identity Theory. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1970.
Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy, revised, edited, and translated by John Cottingham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966.
Devitt, M.: Realism and Truth, Oxford: Blackwell, 1984.
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Gary E. Kessler. Voices of Wisdom. 6th Edition.
Russell, B.: The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, in The Collected Papers of Bertrand.
Russell, Vol. 8: The Philosophy of Logical Atomism and Other Essays 1914-19, London: George Allen and Urwin, 1986.