Re: The Mind/Body Problem

From: Swash Justin (
Date: Wed May 22 1996 - 15:22:12 BST

The mind/body problem revolves around how brain activity is related
to mental activity, and how physical happenings can become mental
ones. So, when a cognitive process occurs in the brain, how does this
turn into a "feeling" ?

 A major source of this problem is that the mind cannot be observed
from the outside as the physical activities can be. For example, it
is possible to follow how when a cut is made on someones hand the
nerves carry signals from the wound to the brain, and the areas of
the brain that are apparently involved in processing the information,
and the time and order they are activated in. This gives a
description of what is physically happening in the experience of
pain, however, it does not show how these physical effects are
transformed into the mental "feeling" of pain. It may be suggested
for example, that this is a form of conditioning, and the nerve signals
are related to a harmful event on the body, but this is just a theory
of how the signal gives a meaningful message to the brain, and there
is still an actual mental feeling of pain to explain.
 The monist theory suggests the feelings are the same as, ( but a special
form of ) physical matter, whilst the dualists suggest they are
different intrinsically. However, even the monists cannot say HOW
the "mind" is special, and therefore can't argue how it can be
accounted for.
 Without the ability to observe mental activity it seems impossible to
show how it originates. Research into the functioning of cognitive
processing needs to be further advanced also, as without a proper
understanding of this, transforming physical processes into mental
activity cannot be clearly identified either.

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