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To what extent are minds private?

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Introduction

19/3/15 To what extent is the mind private? (50 marks) By privacy of the mind, we are, of course referring to consciousness, making a claim that either the mind is not accessible to any other mind, that it is private, or that it is; a claim that opens up a whole arena of possibility. The former view would be represented by Substance Dualilism, while the second would be expressed via the Identity Theory. When one attempts to answer such a question, should consider the validity of the theories used to convey whether there is a separate mind and brain; as well as exploring the problems that are faced by ?the problem of other minds?. It is the opinion of this writer that the Identity Theory is the explanation that most satisfactorily answers the question. It may at first seem natural to be inclined to view ourselves as having a separate mind and brain. As Plato pointed out, when we talk about ourselves we tend to distinguish between our body and our mind. Take the example of someone who lost a cross country running race: ?Why did you come last?? asks a spectator unsympathetically, ?because my legs gave up? replies the runner. ...read more.

Middle

We may not be able to doubt our consciousness, but we can everyone else?s; even extending so far as being sceptical of everything outside of your own direct consciousness ? including your own body. Such problems as mind body interaction, neural dependency, and Solipsism, result in the invertible consequence of substance dualism being thrown onto the philosophical scrap heap: a failed theory in need of replacing. The sensible conclusion would be to state that all mental processes are very much reliant on the physical brain. The Identity Theory states, conversely, that all mental states (thoughts, sensations, reasoning: the ?internal content? of the mind) are all fully explicable and identifiable in terms of the physical properties of the brain. The ?mind? then, is fully reducible to the physical brain. The question of other minds seems to be solved since anything with a brain must therefore also have a mind. The Type-Type theory used by some Identity Theorists is a way of explaining how the conscious feeling of something is just another way of experiencing the physical happenings going on the brain. So if someone were to say that they were in pain, this is just another way of describing a brain state in which C-fibres were firing. ...read more.

Conclusion

One could conceive, perhaps, of a neurological zombie: a thing that has a synthetic human brain and is thus indistinguishable from a human. One could question the integrity of such an argument ? is it even possible to have such a thing? But, for the sake of argument, we shall brush past this criticism. The Substance Dualists may well shout with glee, ?look it has a brain, but it must have no mind since it?s synthetic!? Nonetheless, the Identity Theorists are not flustered; ?if it has a brain, it must therefore have a mind? they would argue. Overall, as we have seen, Substance Dualilism has been discredited as a theory ? failing at such hurdles as mind body interaction and neural dependency. Furthermore, attempts to prove that this is privacy of the mental via the epistemological and ontological problems, such as Qualia and the neurological zombie, have also been fruitless. As for solipsism, the Identity Theory states that since the mind is fully reducible to the brain, anything that has a brain must therefore also have a mind. This leads us to the conclusion that there is, at least in theory at the moment, no privacy of the mental: in the future though, will be technology able to ?read? minds. ...read more.

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