Sunday, 23 July 2017

Perspectives on Mind-Body Relationship

The philosophy of the brain is of great interest as it seeks to find the answer to the greatest puzzle of mankind, the puzzle of man’s nature.

In Some Questions about Language, Chapter III, “Solution of the Primary Problem,” Mortimer J. Adler offers his answer to the question: Can meaningless notations acquire referential significance without the intervention of the mind?

Adler’s answer runs across 6 pages, but in this blog I look at only the perspective on mind-body relationship that he offers while presenting his answer. Here’s an excerpt:
It is necessary to explain the question before attempting to answer it. The word “mind” is here being used in the broadest possible sense to cover acts of perception, memory, imagination, and thought, and also to cover acts that are voluntary as contrasted with the involuntariness of the purely reflex or automatic behavior. This use of the word “mind” does not commit us initially to any view of the relation of mind to brain as somehow distinct from one another. It does, however, preclude the complete reduction of the mind to brain.  
If (i) brain states or processes are regarded as being nothing but neurochemical conditions or events, and if (ii) they can be described in no other terms, and if (iii) it cannot be said that brain states or processes involve or give rise to acts of perception, memory, imagination, and thought (acts which are at least analytically distinct from brain states and processes described in neurochemical terms), then “mind” is just another word for “brain,” and the use of it is misleading for it tends to suggest the addition of something somehow distinct. 
If, however, mind is regarded as somehow distinct from brain, so that brain states or processes, in addition to being described in neurochemical terms, can be said to involve or give rise to acts of perception, memory, imagination, and thought, then mind can be appealed to as a factor in explaining the acquisition of referential significance by meaningless notations. This is the case whether brain states or processes are both the necessary sufficient condition of acts of perception, memory, imagination, and thought, or only the necessary but not the sufficient condition of their occurrence.

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