Thursday, June 26, 2008

The mind-body problem

I'm back from Cambridge: 'will catch up with events later, but, in the spirit of academic philosophy, will pose a koan for the day.

1) The human body is a material thing.

2) The human mind is a spiritual thing.

3) Mind and body interact.

4) Spirit and matter do not interact.

These four statements are inconsistent: any three can be true but they negate the fourth assertion. This allows four different perspectives on possible solutions to the mind-body problem.

If the first is false, the world is solipsistic; the second is the classical materialist view that "The mind is what the brain does". If the third is false, the brain and mind have a synchronized existence, while the fourth provides for a classical dualist view.

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