Re: The Mind/Body Problem

From: LEES Andie (
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 13:35:43 GMT

THE MIND/MATTER DEBATE - The Role of Causation and The
Separability/Universality of Minds Themselves

I wonder WHERE dualists believe the mind to end and physical matter to
begin. Where indeed is one mind supposed to end and another to begin?
And what about the role of causation - is the brain itself responsible
for causation or the separate mind or something else quite different?

It is interesting to see whereabouts different groups of people have
placed 'causation' over time. By causation I mean the source of origin
of responsibility for the events occurring in a person's life. Science
has placed causation externally to the person in terms of fate, luck or
chance. Religion has also placed causation outside of the person in
terms of a god/s in which some degree/all of event/life control is
supposed to reside.

I am interested in the role of metaphysical belief and whether this
branch of thinking can help in any way to shed light upon the
mind/matter debate. Metaphysicians place the role of causation back
inside the 'self' in other words the mind and thinking of people
themselves. They believe (as energy is the most basic part and perhaps
responsible for matter?-quantum physics) that a person's mind and
thoughts can create that person's reality, not just in terms of
themselves as in their body, but events around them too. In other words
they do not place a strict causation boundary between the body itself
and the environment. This resounds Professor Harnad's mention of
telekinesis and how if the mind is responsible for the control of a
finger press (a physical event within the boundary of the body), who is
to say that it is not also responsible for the control of the weather
for example ( a physical event clearly occurring outside of the body).

What exactly are the limitations of the mind. Where should we place the
causation boundary? Are our minds indeed separate from each other or are
they an element of a universal whole? If we psychologists find
difficulty in differentiating between exactly which mental processes are
a part of conscious thinking and which are a part of unconscious
thinking, the point at which a mind begins and the point at which it
ends is surely equally as difficult to specify (unsolvable??) Perhaps
this question is even more elemental to the mind/body debate. What is a
mind; is it containable and finite? Before we can explore whether the
mind and body are separate or one and the same, perhaps we need to
explore what is meant by each and indeed the place at which a mind
begins and the place at which it ends. Perhaps our minds are not
entirely separate entities - how would this colour the difficulty of
wondering whether my experience of a headache is different to yours??

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