Solving Mind-Body Problem Presented by Dualism and its Relationship to Cognitive Science

Understanding reality and all the intricacies surrounding it has long been the quest of sophisticated sages. The mysterious nature of our environment together with all its components has been the subject of extended discussions within philosophical circles, with the primary aim being the improvement of its comprehension. One of the most common examples of this quest is in the development of dualism as a system to aid in the understanding of reality and all other related components in our environment. In essence, the view contends that there are two distinct parts that, when joined together, constitute reality in its purest form. Philosophy generally agrees with the proposition that the mind differs greatly from the physical even though they may interact in one way or another. It is a time-honored position that has been explored by some of the most famous philosophers in history; Descartes exemplified it in his mind/matter difference, Hume in fact/value dissimilarity, pre-Socratics in their appearance/reality dichotomy, Kant in his transcendental/empirical phenomena and Russell’s existence/subsistence question (Friedenberg & Silverman, 2016, p. 57).  Nevertheless, interest in this particular disposition and contemporary cognitive science has always led aficionados to the mind/matter distinction that was popularized by Descartes. Commonly referred to as Cartesian interactionist dualism, Descartes’ perspective was emphatic in suggesting that the mind and matter were two distinct entities that existed independently. Mind substances, however, wielded a considerable amount of power that would enable it to influence material objects. Active thinking was what defined the mind in this case while its counterpart was defined by the spatial dimensions that in which it was located. The assumption made during this period in history was that matter could exist without matter and vice versa. It is worth noting that the question of dualism is not solely of historical interest but also has considerable implications on cognitive science. The purpose of this research paper is, thus to solve the mind-body problem presented by dualism and its relationship to cognitive science.

We currently live in a contemporary world that is driven by numerous technological advancements and scientific developments. An area of special concern for leading scientists is the cognitive faculties that human beings possess and their ability to subsequently make out their environment. There has been a special interest by scientists seeking to trace the roots of this ancient concept since there is a high likelihood that demystifying it would greatly influence modern science and the debate surrounding consciousness. A convincing argument from the scientific community rejecting dualism has often been thought as the only sure way of solving the age-old mind-body debacle. Proponents of this viewpoint argue that it is key in enabling cognitive scientists to vindicate the materialist approach and conclusively holding a disposition that can be proven empirically.  Understanding the mind and how it functions has been at the center of most research projects that have been carried out over the past five decades. The problem presented by cognitive scientists has been one that sought to understand dualism and brain function as a whole. From the onset, it was clear that there was a huge difference between the brain and individuals mind. While habits entrenched in the basal ganglia of the mammalian brain, the reality is a construct that solely represents the minds perception of its environment and all other elements surrounding it. Dualism, presented in its raw form, therefore, seeks to explore how mind interacts with matter at any given point. An interaction between these two entities, from a cognitive science perspective, presents a special circumstance where the mental finally manifest into the physical. Unlike the route was taken by occasionalism on the issue, causal efficacy is espoused in cognitive science with the causal agent, in this case, being consciousness(Garvey, 2011). The mental and physical states interact to synchronize a dualistic appearance that is in harmony with its surroundings.

Cognitive scientist keen on solving the mind-body problem have claimed, time and again, claimed that the notion of causation may be the reason why controversy surrounds this subject. Initially, most experts were of the misguided opinion that the problem lay in the dualist ontology that had been adopted by most of the predecessors that seemingly contradicted any standard notion ever held on the issue. It is for this particular reason that scientists now claim that our mental lives are subsequently reflected in the physical lives that we are currently leading. Questions as to whether cognitive science has the ability to close this particular gap often stem from the vast differences that exist between the mind and brain. The reasoning capacity that enables human beings to function is a product of the mind while the brain acts as the matter that only behaves as a conduit. Moreover, cognitive scientists are in agreement that there are stark differences between these two phenomena, which can also be separated according to function and importance. Aristotle and Plato were among the first philosophers to attempt to solve this problem by suggesting that there were multiple souls within us that were arranged in a hierarchical manner (Margolis, Samuels, & Stich, 2012, p. 56). Their functioning was a matter of distinctive functions served, with the most important ones taking precedence. Out of all other qualities found in other animals, reason amongst human beings stands out. This reasoning capacity is said to be as a result of the soul that every individual possesses, which ultimately defines them. Accepting the mind as a non-physical entity is, therefore, the first step in realizing the non-spatial nature of the mind. With this ability, they are able to become self-aware, revealing their intelligence even when compared to other beings. Cognitive science does not dispute the existence of a metaphysical state where consciousness is said to reside, which is why extra effort is put into seeking practical ways to help establish the forces behind this reality. Substance duality has been used by cognitive scientists as a starting point when proving that both entities have different origins and foundations. This opinion is further bolstered by property dualism that proposes the existence of ontological differences when exploring mind and body. Predicate dualism is another popular school of thought that revolves around the irreducibility of mental predicates, thus agreeing with the widely held cognitive science view that the two are distinct.

One of the most important points to note is the existence of the said entities and their location at any given point. A view that has been widely accepted is that which suggests that consciousness exists outside the body. This, therefore, means that it is virtually impossible to destroy consciousness, in the same manner, one destroys the body. A common axiom explaining the existence of the mind and consciousness suggests that consciousness can be likened to space in an open field with a house built in its midst. The house represents the human body which takes shape on the open field representing consciousness. Even though it is possible to destroy the building, rendering it uninhabitable, the space representing consciousness still remains and is impossible to destroy. Understanding the mind-body connection, therefore, begins from this precept which also acts as a guiding principle in cognitive science. The body serves as a channel through which the mind presents itself to the world and cannot think for itself. In recognition of this supreme reality, the mind takes full control of the faculties and making important decisions regarding the person’s well-being (Vicari & Searle, 2013, p. 92). Moreover, consciousness exists in a realm different from the physical one which is why it is irreducible when it comes to its general neurobiology. Cognitive science also asserts that the intelligent design behind the body’s make up is the primary reason why consciousness exists in it in the first place. Appropriate organization is a typical feature of the human body, which is why scientists unanimously agree that it was created to adapt to these changes. Mental states are a common feature in dualism, with the experience of consciousness varying from one individual to the next. The mental states are unique to particular individuals and cannot always be the same for all those experiencing consciousness at any given moment.

Human beings have, for centuries, been baffled by consciousness and how best to explain it using layman’s language. This is because the mind has no physical manifestations, therefore making it an uphill task for anyone seeking to compare the experience to anything in existence.  Consciousness does not have a physical equivalent, which is why experts such as Jerry Fodor and Donald Davidson had to use reduced predicates to describe it. Cognitive science seeks to explore an unchartered territory since quanta have always been a scientific hot seat in the past five decades. There has never been any empirical evidence to suggest that consciousness exists, yet we all know that it does. Each individual experiences consciousness at any given time and are fully aware of its existence and the influence that it has on their lives. A school teacher wakes up in the morning and follows a strict regimen. All meetings and activities of the day are performed with exceptional ease and attention to detail, suggesting that the individual is in complete control. But without consciousness, all this would not be possible. Consciousness enables the said individual to become fully aware of their position in society and what exactly it is that they need to do for them to successfully wade through these murky waters. The meticulous nature of their demeanor and attention to detail suggests that there is a particular order to the manner in which human beings carry out their day to day activities. Consciousness seems to be at the heart of all the said functions, with the mind acting as the sole driver of individual. The teacher’s sense of self is located in their mind, making certain that they wake up every morning, acknowledging the role they play in the society and the expectations held by people.  Cognitive science explores mind as a motivation for the body, pushing it beyond any perceived limits, before ultimately achieving the set objectives.

Even though the mind and body are two dual states that appear independently, the interaction between them becomes inevitable. Initially, the commonly held view was that these two states were independent of each other and functioned without any aid. The perception was that consciousness represented a higher reality, one which differed greatly from the one mere mortals were used to.  Philosophers were of the opinion that there was more to it than what met the eye and even went ahead to suggest that these two states interacted with each other to effect the changes that were present in life at any given moment. The advent of cognitive science meant that experts now had a chance to explore the validity of these claims and ultimately reach an informed conclusion on whether or not this was actually true. Similarly, interactionism was beginning to serve as a common bottom line for a majority of scientists who were convinced that there was truth to these claims (Wheeler, 2010). The rule of cause and effect has been widely applied in exploring the mind-body connection, challenging previously held views about the nature of consciousness. It is now widely accepted view in the scientific community that these two states are in constant interaction with each other, with the mind’s influence extending to the body. Mental states, for instance, have been of particular interest to scientists over the years. This is because beliefs and desires have often been found to manifest into their physical equivalent. An individual who ends up owning their dream apartment achieves this through this quantum interaction that cognitive scientists have often been put to task to explain. An affirmation is first made in the subconscious, allowing the said individual to immerse the desire before acting upon it. Common-sense intuitions also come into play, allowing an individual to tackle that which is practical and appropriate for a particular scenario. Logical arguments may commence, with the person in question trying to make sense of the auto-suggestions made to their subconscious in an attempt to allow the body to fully grasp the concept. An event that begins in the mental faculties, therefore, becomes empirical once an individual has been able to focus on it for the appropriate amount of time, allowing changes to take place cumulatively.

There is no doubt that there is a close interface between contemporary cognitive sciences and dualism. The turn of the 20th century introduced a wide array of changes in individuals and the views that they held concerning various common-sense intuitive actions. In essence, dualism has had an immense effect on Eastern and Western cultures owing to its widespread use in spiritual texts. Mind and body become commonplace, which partly explains why the culture has been able to endure. Nevertheless, cognitive science has emerged as a staunch critic of this particular disposition, since there is a noticeable gap that it reveals when attempting to prove its feasibility. Psychological analysis procedures often involve a close observation of the mind and bodies reaction, as opposed to expanding it essentially. The reconciliation of neuroscience and psychology, therefore, serves as a process that seeks to explain the existence of the brain and the main as a single entity. Behind this idea is an attempt to establish the true nature of the mind while basically explaining its relation to the physical self. Cognitive science, in particular, has been put to task when debunking dualism to explain the occurrence of free will in the society. Any functionalist explaining the occurrence of particular national myth, experts in cognitive science ultimately end up coming to the conclusion that free will is, therefore, nothing more than an elaborate illusion.  In the case of the Founding Fathers of America, the general conclusion would, therefore, be that they were not seekers of liberty of free thinkers but ordinary individuals in positions of influence reacting to external stimuli. Simply put, they were at the right place, at the right time and had to react in a manner suggesting that they would be following the course of history and destiny.

Subjective elements also appear as common elements in dualism, especially when trying to understand reality. Epiphenomenalism takes this task to heart and seeks to explain the mechanics of the universe and how every single event takes place. Cognitive science takes these attempts a notch higher by attempting to make a scientific inquiry into how the human mind works in an attempt to explain life events (Kitamura, 2015, p. 78). Emotions play a major role in how the human mind functions, which is why cognitive science is as the preferred option when explaining the inner workings of this particular system. Any advancement that may emerge will not affect a society in any way imaginable since the psyche of the larger segment of society often happens to be on the same wavelength. Incremental changes that were brought forth by cognitive science through the introduction of Freudian discoveries were an instance where genuine attempts were made by persons in positions of influence. Following this method of deduction will lead one to question common truths that are usually held by a majority of individuals in a particular population. Freedom, for example, is adored by a large segment of society with most people viewing it as the icing on the cake. This attractive option, nonetheless, means that individuals will have to follow a popular ideology to avert suspicion of their activities and live their lives away from any type of scrutiny. One common example is that of White rural communities that dwell in the American South. A large majority of them still vote their age-old preferred political divide. Additionally, subtle forms of discrimination and segregation are still present, affecting persons from minority communities. The downside of this particular tendency is that persons may rally behind a group that does not have the whole community’s interests at heart, therefore forcing particular members of the society to be pushed to the fringes. This is because the mammalian response system may have been programmed to perceive individuals from particular segments of society as threats. The immediate response would be one resulting in disunity, which is why cognitive science seeks to ensure that equality becomes a reality. The average American will have an easier time empathizing with illegal migrants since their mind does not register them as threats.

In conclusion, dualism presents a new challenge to cognitive science, with experts painstakingly seeking to explain the dichotomy that exists between the mind and the body. Both are in existence, though in different planes and play a huge role in influencing human behavior. Understanding cognitive science is the key to solving the mind-body problem and exposing the relationship that they share.


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