What really is the mind-body problem? Though the doctrine of mind-body problem has boggled the minds of sophists for a while, a number of prepositions have been advanced to explain the problem. The most common alternatives that have been widely accepted are the mind-body dualism and the physicalism. Physicalism asserts that there is no nonphysical aspect of a person, where self is the product of the activities of the body. The mind-body dualism points that though the body and mind are different, they casually interact with each other. The commonly referred version of dualism is the interactionism, which was advanced by Descartes in the 17th century. Although the concept of physicalism and interactionism explain the mind-body problem, interactionism offers more plausible reasons than the concept of physicalism. The doctrine of Interactionism may have gaps and may not be the only doctrine that explains the nature of mind-body problem, however, it offers more powerful and relatable ways I which one can understand the world around them.
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Evaluation of the Doctrine of Interactionism
The interactionism doctrine of thinking offers a powerful way in which one can connect the physical body events and the events of the mind. According to (Lawhead, 2014) the body is a physical substance, whereas the mind is a nonphysical thing. As rightly put by Descartes in his preposition about dualism, thinking is dualistic in nature. Human beings possess the body and the soul or mind, which does the thinking. In order for one to make a decision, the mind must generate some form of energy that directs specific organs of the body to perform certain functions. The event provides the dualist with a mindset that they can bring fourth change in the world. The mind is distinctively separate from the body, though it may not be physical in nature. It is from the events of the mind that one can make decisions or one can act on certain stimuli.
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A case in example is where a dog backs when one approaches a restricted place. In such an event, when the dog backs, the sound of backing is captured by the ears and relayed to the brain. The mind through electrical energy exchanges triggers some response, which will allow the individual to make a decision, whether to approach the place or retreat. Such is the relationship between the mind and the body that allows humans to make decisions in life. The doctrine does not make the thinker helpless neither does it make them to be vulnerable to the nature’s will, but rather places them on the “steering will”.
The doctrine of interactionism also offers more plausible explanation with regard to the mind-body problem over the physicalism in that even the doctrine of physicalism acknowledges the presence of human soul though it disagrees on the presence of physical interaction between the two. The question then would be, if the doctrine of physicalism believes in the presence of the mind, then how does the mind and the body interacts? Yet the doctrine of physicalism asserts that mind is not physical and for any interaction to occur, the two components interacting must possess the same characteristics (Lawhead, 2014). The interaction that the doctrine of physicalism points not to exist occurs during the transmission of communicative energy between the mind and the body. The assertion by the physicalists that the mind and the body do not interact can be countered by the fact the interactions do occurs since if from these interactions that the mind affects the functioning of the body. If at all no interaction occurs between the mind and the body, then it would be right to assert that the two are separate and that the functioning of the mind does not influence the working of the body.
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However, the doctrine of physicalism agrees with the presence of the mind and its influence on the body. Though the physicalism denies the presence of a nonphysical mind, identity theorists, a version of physicalism, finds it appropriate to talk about the mind. “Even though identity theorists deny that there is a separate, nonphysical mind, they think it is meaningful to talk about the mind because they claim that all talk about the mind can be translated into talk about brain states (Lawhead, 2014)”. The fact that physicalism accept the presence of mind and its influence on the body and yet they fail to provide how they influence the body but rather talking of its presence shows incomplete explanation to the mind-body problem. In contrary, although the doctrine of interactionism fails to clearly define how mind and body create contact, it provides the explanation between on how the two interact. Thus, the doctrine of interactionism argument is more plausible that that offered by the doctrine of physicalism.
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Moreover, functionalism, a position of physicalism rejects the dualist assertion that the mind is a separate. In addition, this version of physicalism also rejects the position of identity theory that the events of the mind are identical to the events of the brain. They also reject the claims of the eliminativist’s that there exist no mental events. Their assertion is that the realms of the mental events are characterized by the events that occur as a result of input-processing-output (Lawhead, 2014). What the functionalist mean is that the brain and the mind are distinct and that the human brain is like the computer hardware and the mind is like a program that is run by the computer hardware. These views assert that brain and the mind are distinct, which contradicts those other versions of physicalism. Furthermore, it does not create a connection between the body and the mind and human brain. The functionalist views, which are part of the physicalism doctrine clearly demonstrates the divergence in the views of the physicalism towards the mind-body problem, leaving the interactionism doctrine as more plausible theory.
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Although the doctrine of interactionism offers more plausible argument regarding the mind-body problem, it has its own shortcomings. The doctrine of interactionism fails to distinctively discern the point of interaction of the mind and the body. According to (Mohammed, 2012) the pineal gland theory as outlined by Descartes as the point of interaction of the mind and the body created many problems as one could ask if it was physical and how it could be next to a part of a brain. Moreover, Lawhead (2014) asserts that for two entities to be the same they must possess similar properties. For example, a man and a dog cannot be the same because the man has superior mind, while the brain of a dog is small and inferior to that of a man. However, the mind is nonphysical, whereas the body is physical, making the two to have discerning differences.