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By : Mohammed Yassine Labib

Dr. Christopher Evan Longhurst


PHI 2301

Harmonious Relationship

When asked about the relationship between the mind and the body, Descartes argued the
distinction between the two of them. He stated that the mind as intellect is distinct from the
body (Descartes, 1989). Descartess substance dualism debates the independent conception of
substances. The philosopher argued that there is no one substance that has both material and
mental properties; as a result, a separation must exist between the two elements. To explain
further, Descartes believed that the mind is a substance by itself, and that it has mental properties,
while the body is another separate substance that has physical and material properties. Moreover,
Descartes (1989) stated: Our soul is of a nature entirely independent of the body, and
consequently it is not bound to die with it. And since we cannot see any other causes that
destroy the soul we are naturally led to conclude that it is immortal (Descartes, 1989). As a
result, we understand that from Descartess point of view, the mind, which is distinct from the
body, can exist without it. Thus, the two substances can exist independently from one another
concluding that while our bodies are meant to die, our souls cant be destroyed, and this turns us
into immortals. However, everyone does not generally approve of Descartess separation
argument for substance dualism. For the purpose of studying this concept, I will look at the pros
and cons arguments of other philosophers about this central idea, and then I will debate my own
point of view.

Many theorists approved Descartess dualism. First, in 1974, Robert Kirk explained the
dualism by talking about the case of zombies. Kirk (1974) argued that: If the supposed zombie
has all the behavioral and neural properties ascribed to it by those who argue from the possibility
of zombies against materialism, then the zombie is conscious and so is not a zombie (Kirk,
1974). As a matter of fact, Chalmerss (2010) zombie argument showed that a zombie is a
physical entity that exists by itself without the involvement of the consciousness (Chalmers,
2010). To explain further, the zombie arguments suppose that one will not be able to built a living
zombie because a zombie is just an animated body by itself, and to build a living zombie it will
require the immersion of the mind with the body. Thus, it is impossible to have a zombie. Also
the causal interaction theories take the side of Descartess dualism. In this matter, Malebranche
(1997) used Occasionalism to explain that the only times when the body and the mind interact is
when there is a direct intervention from God (Malebranche, 1997).

Descartess dualism theory raises many contradicting views, which believed that the mind
and the body are not as separate entities as Descartes presumed. We will look at two main
arguments in this section. One is about the body dominating the mind, and the other one is about
the mind dominating the body. Notably, one theory that is against Descartess Dualism view is
called the Mind and Brain Identity Theory. These identity theorists are, sometimes, referred to, as
materialists. They argue that it is all about the body, and that the mind is within the body itself.
Thus, the bodies are believed to have the mental properties of thinking because the thinking itself
is from within the body, and Descartes failed to imagine this scenario (Honing, 1981). In
addition, materialists believe that no mental substance exists separated from the body, so the
mind is just one of the properties of the physical (Honing, 1981). Also, one of the most
conspicuous theorists of materialism is Paul Churchland. The theorist debated the effects of drugs
on the reasoning of a person, his or her emotions, consciousness, and brain damages in order to

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By : Mohammed Yassine Labib
Dr. Christopher Evan Longhurst
PHI 2301
show how the mind is from within the body, and how there is no separation between the two of
them (Churchland, 1981). On the other hand, other theorists disagreed with Descartes by saying
that the mind and the body are not two separate units. These theorists are called the idealists, and
they believed that it is all about the soul (Berkeley, 1710). George Berkeley is one of the
prominent theorists who held this view. This latter claimed that there was only one substance not
two separates. On the contrary of materialists, Muehlmann (1996) reported That Berkeley denied
the existence of bodies and matters in the first place, and he alleged that only the soul existed as a
whole entity (Muehlmann, 1996).

Concerning Descartess dualism that argued that the mind is a separate entity from
the body, I believe that this theory lacks to consider many aspects of the living life in general. To
explain, I think that dualism is a dreamy theory where we, each one of us, have two different
parts. One related to the mind, and the other one related to the body. I think that the notion of
immortality is very appealing, but hardly believable. In lights with the arguments discussed
earlier I find it impressive to discuss the zombie motion that explained how there is a separation
between the consciousness and the matter, but dont zombies only belong to the movies?
Personally I am against Descartess dualism because I think that the mind and the body do
interact; better yet they are one single entity. For example, in the case of a loss of a love partner,
one feels emotionally weak, sad, and tired. However, these unconscious, mind related, and deep
emotionally sad feelings might translate into a physical state. In this case, one may feel a great
deal of physical pain, exhaustion, and chronicle fatigue even if the cause of pain was emotional
and not physical. However, I disagree with both the pro-arguments discussed earlier. I don't
believe that there is only a dominant body and that the thinking mind is within it, as I don't
believe that the soul is everything and that the matter does not even exist. I imagine a harmonious
matrimonial relationship where the mind will be unable to be or survival without a body and vice
versa.

References:

Callahan, G. (2012). Was berkeley a subjective idealist?. Collingwood and British Idealism
Centre, Retrieved from http://www.psa.ac.uk/journals/pdf/5/2012/274_297.pdf

Chalmers, D. (2010). The character of consciousness. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
http://www.personal.ceu.hu/students/03/Istvan_Aranyosi/Chapter%20IV.pdf

Churchland, P. (1988). Matter and Consciousness, revised edition. Cambridge: Massachusetts


Institution of Technology.

Descartes, R. (1989). Meditations, in Reason and Responsibility, 7th ed.; Joel Feinberg, editor.
Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

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By : Mohammed Yassine Labib
Dr. Christopher Evan Longhurst
PHI 2301
Hning, N. (2005). Paul Churchland (1981) eliminative materialism and the propositional
attitudes. Retrieved from
http://nicolashoening.de/user/File/goodies/uni/POM_Essays/Churchland.pdf

Kirk, R. (1974). Zombies and consciousness. Department of Philosophy, Retrieved from


http://www.federaljack.com/ebooks/Consciousness Books Collection/Kirk - Zombies and
Consciousness.pdf
Malebranche, N., 1997, Dialogues on Metaphysics and on Religion, ed. Jolley & trans. Scott,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Muehlmann, R. G. (1996). George Berkeley: Idealism and the man. Journal of the history of
philosophy, 34(2), Retrieved from
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_the_history_
of_philosophy/v034/34.2muehlmann.pdf