PSYC 511 – Psychology Concepts
Dr. David Perkins
October 27, 2017
Since the beginning of time, philosophers and scientists have been investigating the composition of everything in the universe. While monists attempt to explain everything in terms of one reality – either physical matter or mental activity, dualists believe in the existence of both (Hergenhan & Henley, 2013). The mind-body question then came into existence to investigate the relationship between the two.
Many Ancient Greeks philosophers are considered monists because they tried to explain everything through one primary element – the physis. To Thales, it was water. To Anaximander, it was the boundless. To Heraclitus, it was fire. To Parmenides, …show more content…
Dualists attempt to describe and explain the interaction between the (mental) mind and the (physical) body. There have been a variety of different theories of dualism. One prominent type of dualism is interactionism. Descartes and Freud are two renowned representatives of interactionists. According to them, the mind impacts the body and the body also affects the mind. They both believed in the capacity of the mind to initiate behaviors. Another popular theory to explain the mind-body interation is emergentism, which claims that our mental events emerge from brain activity. Some emergentists, such as Nobel-prize winner Roger Sperry, sided with interactionists and argued that our mental events are capable of regulating behaviors. However, other emergentists, such as Thomas Henry Huxley, refused this idea and argued that even though the physical events in the brain trigger mental events, mental events do not have the ability or capacity to impact any kind of physical events, including behaviors (1874). This form of emergentism is called epiphenomenalism. More interestingly, Baruch Spinoza proposed a related dualist theory, which is known as double aspectism. According to Spinoza, the mind and body are similar to two sides of the same coin that they are different but inseparable from each other. He believed that physical events happening to the material body can be experienced as emotions and thoughts, and mental events also impact the material body. The famous Edward Bradford Titchener was a supporter for both epiphenomenalism and double aspectism. Another popular type of dualism is psychophysical parallelism, which confirms the presence of both the material body and nonmaterial mind but refuse the existence of such interaction between the two. According to psychophysical parallelists, the mind and the body exist independently from each