The Mind Body Problem : Descartes Essay

1934 Words Feb 14th, 2015 null Page
The mind-brain problem, previously called the mind body problem was initially conceptualised by Descartes following his work on the metaphysical aspects of the soul during the 17th century. Descartes described the mind and brain in his book the Meditations on First Philosophy; "But what then am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and which also imagines and senses.” Descartes proposed that the mind and body are separate and exist independently. This emanated the discussion of what is the ‘mind’, how does it work and how is it related to the physical brain. Dualists, such as Descartes, perspective on the mind-brain problem derived from the laws of nature and scientific investigation. The mind had no material substance and therefore is immeasurable, unlike the brain. Contrasting this belief is the monist position, which believes in the unity of the two and that mental activity is essentially brain activity. The mind-brain debate is propelled by what is physical and what is mental, as humans we have both. The physical properties we possess are observable for example; the brain, anatomy and autopsies show we have an organ made up of billions of neurons. It can be located, it has physical properties of weight, size and shape. We also have a property that is immeasurable and cannot be located. This is a mental property as portrayed by Descartes famous quote “I think therefore I am” expresses that our mental…

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