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Philosophy and the Body Essay (Critical Writing)


There has been always an assumption that human body and mind are closely connected with the outside world through the basic concept of instinct. Using basic physiological mechanism, an individual eventually decides which outside stimulus should be opposed and which one can avoid pressure from the inside. In this respect, one cannot precisely state that initiating actions are either withdrawn or accepted through mental stimulus. According to Freud, psychological aspects of the issue should specifically refer to the body as a powerful tool deciding which actions represents the anxiety for an organism and which ones should be considered danger for normal existence.

Instinctual needs, therefore, can serve as defensive mechanism preventing outside dangers from invading organism. In other words, Freud’s thesis is premised on the fact that body is the main principle for distinguishing between the outside and inside impacts through the pressure imposed on the nervous system identifying physiological stimulus, or instinctual need of an organism. The experiment uncovers the category of want as the core revealing that need, rather than perception, is the first stimulus for the organism. More importantly, the idea of the urgent requirement gives rise to later development of a human organism.

Discussing Freud’s Philosophy of the Mind and the Body

The mental and physiological dimensions of a human organism have also been juxtaposed to each other. In fact, some mental activities cannot be executed normally without physiological ones. According to Freud’s (1915) considerations, “…from a biological point of view, an ‘instinct’ appears to us as a concept on the frontier between the mental and the somatic…” (p. 122). Judging from the assumption presented above, somatic perception is external, visible reaction of an organism to what is going on outside it.

However, the inside processes are not performed automatically, but are directed by instinctual needs eliminating tensions on the way to achieving satisfaction (Abel, 1989, p. 13). The presented arguments are confined to the connection between the actions of physical process of reducing tensions and mental states of achieving satisfactions. The removed pressure, therefore, is the main reason for emerging pleasure; therefore, Freud believes that tension removal and aspiration to satisfaction are identical. These two aspects are almost equivalent because they are connected by cause-and-effect ties.

Analyzing the Philosophy of the Body – Revealing Commonalities between Inside and Outside Characteristics of Human Body

While deliberating on the inseparable processes of reducing tensions and achieving satisfaction, the question arises concerning the prevalence of mind of the body. The presented resistance becomes more complicated taking into account Freud’s thesis. In this respect, it is purposeful to consider three main pillars: the body, the mind, and the world interacting with other while building new philosophical assumptions (Ferrell, 1996, p. 7). In fact, the presented situation places mental activities in an ambiguous philosophical position between the two outside systems.

Externality of the world, as well as the pressure produced by the body, expects a prompt reaction of the mind. These three dimensions contradict the conventional outlook on exclusive existence of mind and body distinctions. In this respect, Ferrell (1996) explains that biological perspective sees the instinct “…not just as a body parallel in the mind, but as an intrusion into it, a pressure brought to bear on the mental” (p. 7). Consequently, the instinct is more than a reaction, but a need and, according to Freud (1915), ‘satisfaction’. The instinct is an intermediate between the mind and body, the threshold category representing the interaction between these two mediators.

Interaction of the Body and the Mind through Instinctual Needs

Importantly, the body does not always serve as an accelerator of mental process through instinct needs, but a threatening factor to the mind embracing external dangers and stimuli. In this respect, the instinct is not just a response of the mind to the body, but also a means of rendering an object of need (Ferrell, 1996). Despite the fact that the mind serves as a complicated structure to transfer impulses and gain satisfaction, a contradiction arises between the necessity to achieve needs and that to protect the organism from the negative factors. As a result, the mind’s defense is directed at meeting the constant demand of instinctual needs (Freud, 1915). From philosophical point of view, such a mechanism is indispensible to preserving normal and harmonic existence of a human being because it contributes to striking the balance between the constant need for satisfaction and consistence of the incoming demands.


In conclusion, it should be stressed that outside and inside influences are measured by the defensive mechanisms of mind and body interacting with each other through the introduction of instinctual needs. The pressure imposed by stimulus and the need of satisfaction produced by the mind are juxtaposing build normal relations with the external environment. The above considerations have revealed that physiological processes play a pivotal role in defining human needs and gaining satisfaction. The mind serves as a link to the external world whereas the body is the controlling force protecting the mechanism from the outside pressure. In whole, Freud’s thesis proves the complicacy of the physiological processes and withdraws the assumption that the body and mind are involved in a two-dimensional opposition.

Reference List

Abel, D. C. (1989) Freud on Instinct and Morality. US, SUNY Press.

Ferrell, Robyn. (1996) Body. In: F. Robyn. (ed) Passion in theory: conceptions of Freud and Lacan. London, Routledge.

Freud, Sigmund. (1915) Instincts and their vicissitudes. In: J. Strachey (ed) The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. (1976) New York, W. W. Norton & Company.

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1. IvyPanda. "Philosophy and the Body." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-and-the-body/.


IvyPanda. "Philosophy and the Body." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-and-the-body/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Philosophy and the Body." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-and-the-body/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Philosophy and the Body'. 12 July.

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