April 5th, 2016
Descartes’ Theory of the Mind The mind is about mental processes, thought, and consciousness. The body is about the physical aspects of the brain and how the brain is structured. Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, consciousness, mental events, mental properties, mental functions, and their relationship to the physical body. One of the central issues discussed in philosophy of the mind it this relationship of the mind to the body and this topic is termed the mind/body problem. One philosopher who is known for his theory of the mind is René Descartes.
René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, living from March 31st, 1596 until …show more content…
Princess Elisabeth Palatine of Bohemia lived from 1618-1680 and is well-known for her letters with René Descartes. In her letters to Descartes, Elisabeth questions the relationship between the mind and body. She also questions the possibility of the mind and body causally interacting and the nature of their union. One of the central objections to dualism is due to the lack of explanation of how the immaterial and material are able to interact if the mind (consciousness) does in fact exists independent from the brain (physical reality). For example, if someone stuck their hand in boiling water your consciousness tells the body that it is in pain and to pull the hand away. This shows how the nervous system causes interactions between the mind and body. Princess Elisabeth is not the only philosopher that disagrees with dualism (Rozemond, 1998). A Japanese philosopher, Dōgen Zenji, lived from 1200-1253 as a Japanese Buddhist priest, philosopher, poet, writer, and founder of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan. In Dōgen’s collection of works, known as the Shōbōgenzō, he argued that mind and body are not distinct. Rather, the mind and body are characterized by an oneness referred to as shin jin, meaning bodymind. And by casting off mind and body in meditation this will allow one to experiences things as they are, which is the nature of enlightenment in Zen Buddhism (Tanahashi, 2013). Although Dōgen Zenji lived before Descartes, his views align with a monistic approach to the mind/body