Interactionist dualism, or simply interactionism, is the particular form of dualism first espoused by Descartes in the Meditations. This view makes a natural step beyond the basic claim that the mind and body are two distinct substances, and adds that they causally influence each other. One simple but clear case would be the following: something bites my arm; a signal is sent to my brain and then to my mind. My mind then makes the decision to brush the biting thing away, sending a message to my brain, which then sends a message to the arms to do the brushing.
The most difficult part of this story, to make sense of it, concerns the communication between the physical brain and the non-physical mind. Descartes believed that the pineal gland in the center of the brain was the spot of communication, but could offer no further explanation. After all, while we have some grasp on the laws that govern communication of motion between physical bodies, and the psychological laws that describe how certain thoughts lead to other thoughts; no known set of laws seems fit, to describe the way in which the physical and the mental when conceived as non-physical interact.
Indeed, the sort of interaction in question seems to be inconceivable an especially sensitive point for dualists who base their position on the Conceivability Argument.
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Instead, they run along parallel paths mind events causally interact with mind events and brain events causally interact with brain events and only seem to influence each other. Although Leibniz was an ontological monist who believed that only one fundamental substance, monads , exists in the universe and that everything including physical matter is reducible to it, he nonetheless maintained that there was an important distinction between "the mental" and "the physical" in terms of causation. He held that God had arranged things in advance so that minds and bodies would be in harmony with each other.
This is known as the doctrine of pre-established harmony. While body and mind are still different substances, causes whether mental or physical are related to their effects by an act of God's intervention on each specific occasion. Likewise, the motion of particles which constitute my finger's being pricked is the occasion on which God causes a sensation of pain to appear in my brain. Fundamentally, it consists in the view that mental phenomena are causally ineffectual.
Physical events can cause other physical events and physical events can cause mental events, but mental events cannot cause anything, since they are just causally inert by-products i. Hence, it is a sub-branch of emergent materialism. This position is espoused by David Chalmers and has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. In contrast to dualism, monism states that there is only one fundamental substance or type of substance. Today, the most common forms of monism in Western philosophy are physicalist. Another form of monism, idealism , states that the only existing substance is mental.
Another possibility is to accept the existence of a basic substance which is neither exclusively physical nor exclusively mental. One version of such a position was adopted by the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza  , who held that God was the only substance in the world, and that all particular things including minds and bodies were merely affections of God. A rather different version was popularized by Ernst Mach  in the nineteenth century.
This neutral monism, as it is called, bears some resemblance to property dualism. Prior to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, physics had accomplished relatively little, and theology set many of the starting points for science, making it easier for thinkers to assume that there was more to the universe than described in the language of physics. Today, the claim that physics is the most fundamental science, and that the truths of other sciences can—in principle—be reduced to the truths of physics, is seen by many as almost self-evident.
Because of this, many philosophers have seen physicalism monism as irresistible, so that more intellectual energy has been devoted to developing varieties of this view of the mind than any other. Behaviorism dominated philosophy of mind for much of the twentieth century, especially the first half. Without generalizability and the possibility of third-person examination, the behaviorists argued, psychology cannot be scientific. Parallel to these developments in psychology, a philosophical behaviorism sometimes called logical behaviorism was developed.
For the behaviorist, mental states are not interior states on which one can make introspective reports. They are just descriptions of behavior or dispositions to behave in certain ways, primarily made by third parties to explain and predict others' behavior. Philosophical behaviorism, has fallen out of favor since the latter half of the 20th century, coinciding with the rise of cognitive psychology.
When I state that I'm having a headache, the behaviorist must deny that I'm referring to any sort of experience, and am merely making some claim about my dispositions. This would mean that "I have a headache" might be equivalent to saying: "I currently have a disposition to close my eyes, rub my head, and consume some pain medicine.
If anything, it seems that the dispositions in question are the result of that experience; not constitutive of it. As the difficulties with behaviorism became increasingly apparent, physicalist-minded philosophers looked for other ways to claim that the mental was nothing beyond the physical that didn't require ignoring or denying the 'internal' aspect of mentality. Many of the post-behaviorist theories can be divided in terms of a distinction made by C. Pierce between 'tokens' and 'types.
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This distinction allows for some subtlety in formulating claims about the relation of the mental to the physical. Type physicalism or type-identity theory was developed in large part by John Smart  as a direct reaction to the failure of behaviorism. Smart and other philosophers reasoned that, if mental states are something material, but not simple behavioral dispositions, then types of mental states are probably identical to types of internal states of the brain.
In very simplified terms: a mental state M is nothing other than brain state B. The mental state "desire for a cup of coffee" would thus be nothing more than the "firing of certain neurons in certain brain regions". Despite initial plausibility, the identity theory faces at least one challenge in the form of the multiple realizability thesis, as first formulated by Hilary Putnam.
On the other hand, it seems very improbable that all of these diverse organisms with the same pain are in the same identical brain state. If this is not the case however, then pain as a type cannot be identical to a certain type of brain state. The type identity theory thus appears to be empirically unfounded. Despite these problems, there is a renewed interest in the type identity theory today, primarily due to the influence of Jaegwon Kim. But, even if this is the case, it does not follow that identity theories of all forms must be abandoned. According to token identity theories, the fact that a certain brain state is connected with only one "mental" state of a person does not have to mean that there is an absolute correlation between types of mental states and types of brain state.
The idea of token identity is that only particular occurrences of mental events are identical with particular occurrences or tokenings of physical events. Functionalism was formulated by the American philosophers Hilary Putnam and Jerry Fodor as a reaction to the inadequacies of the type identity theory. Putnam and Fodor saw mental states in terms of an empirical computational theory of the mind. Armstrong and David Kellogg Lewis formulated a version of functionalism which analyzed the mental concepts of folk psychology in terms of functional roles.
Functionalists have claimed to find a precedent for their view in Aristotle's De Anima. What all these different varieties of functionalism share in common is the thesis that mental states are essentially characterized by their causal relations with other mental states and with sensory inputs and behavioral outputs. That is, functionalism abstracts away from the details of the physical implementation of a mental state by characterizing it in terms of non-mental functional properties.
For example, a kidney is characterized scientifically by its functional role in filtering blood and maintaining certain chemical balances. From this point of view, it does not really matter whether the kidney be made up of organic tissue, plastic nanotubes or silicon chips: it is the role that it plays and its relations to other organs that define it as a kidney. Just as one can make a mousetrap out of any variety of materials and in any number of configurations, the functionalist view allows that a mind with mental states like ours could in principle be realized in a wide variety of ways.
Many philosophers firmly hold two convictions with regard to mind-body relations: 1 Physicalism is true and mental states must be physical states, and 2 All reductionist proposals are unsatisfactory: mental states cannot be explanatorily reduced to behavior, brain states or functional states. Donald Davidson's anomalous monism  is an attempt to formulate such as physicalism.
The idea is often formulated in terms of the thesis of supervenience: mental states supervene on physical states, but are not reducible to them. This means that, as a matter of metaphysical necessity, there can be no change or variation in mental states without there being some change or variation in physical states, even while there is no way of giving an explanation or exhaustive characterization of the mental in terms of the physical. If one is a materialist but believes that all reductive efforts have failed and that a non-reductive materialism is incoherent, then one can adopt a final, more radical position: eliminative materialism.
Eliminative materialists maintain that mental states are fictitious entities that are the subject matter of everyday "folk psychology". Eliminativists, the most notable being Patricia and Paul Churchland, often invoke the fate of other, erroneous popular theories and ontologies which have arisen in the course of history. Witchcraft is not explained in terms of some other phenomenon, but rather eliminated from the discourse.
Similarly, while it might be possible to find some interpretation of the vocabulary of alchemy so that its claims would appear to be acceptable a functionalist interpretation, for instance , this would be simply wrongheaded, for alchemy is a false science and the entities it postulated clearly do not exist. Each attempt to answer the mind-body problem encounters substantial problems.
Some philosophers argue that this is because there is an underlying conceptual confusion. Such a position is represented in analytic philosophy these days, for the most part, by the followers of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Wittgensteinian tradition of linguistic criticism. Rather it should simply be accepted that humans can be described in different ways - for instance, in a mental and in a biological vocabulary. Unnecessary problems arise if one tries to describe the one in terms of the other's vocabulary or if the mental vocabulary is used in the wrong contexts. This is the case for instance, if one searches for mental states of the brain.
Talk about the brain is simply the wrong context for the use of mental vocabulary - the search for mental states of the brain is therefore a category error or a pure conceptual confusion. Today, such a position is often adopted by interpreters of Wittgenstein such as Peter Hacker. See what you want to see: Motivational influences on visual perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , — Wishful seeing: More desired objects are seen as closer. Psychological Science , — Bargh, J. The unbearable automaticity of being. American Psychologist , — Barrett, H. Enzymatic computation and cognitive modularity.
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