To what extent are minds private?

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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. This, bewitchment of, language suggests that the mind and body are separate entities. However, as the philosopher Nietzsche commented on, language, specifically folk psychologically, has forced us to speak that way, perhaps out of convince, and is not evidence of their being a separate mind or ‘soul’ and brain (the machinery). Thus Plato’s argument commits a fallacy in ignoring this fact.

Moving on from this is the problem of mind body interaction. Quite simply, how can a non-spatial, non-physical, mind interact with a spatial, and thus physical, brain? One way of solving this problem is by taking the occasionalism view. That is to accept that the mind could not interact with the physical world, but instead god made mental events (e.g. ‘willing’ to run ones fingers through one’s hair) and physical events (e.g. one’s fingers running through one’s hair) fit together by ensuring that on each occasion there was the correct correlation between a mental event and physical event. God then, is an ‘eternal busybody’.

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This does through up some disturbing possibilities however. Substance Dualism seems to imply that after the death of the physical brain, the non-physical mind will continue to ‘be’ or ‘live on’. Past philosophers, such as Descartes, have side stepped such questions of life when discussing the mind and brain –even though the question of what happens after death to our mind should be a pressing one for Substance Dualists. As disturbing as the possibility of eternal limbo of the mind is, this point is not a criticism as such the Substance Dualists point out; it does not disprove the theory ...

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