Philosophy of the Mind essay

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Philosophy has been widely used by numerous scientists in an attempt to explain commonly occurring phenomena. In this regard, numerous theorists have proposed suitable methodologies that can be applied in the realm of philosophy. One area that has received major focus is the division on philosophy of the mind. Famous theorists such as Bertrand Russell have provided interesting perspectives regarding philosophical analysis. The identity theory of the mind can be used to provide explanations to justify the human thinking process relative to the actions they exhibit. Other theories also come into play such as reductive realism and Wittgenstein’s philosophical underpinning.

The identity theory of the mind suggests that there are clear similarities between the process of the mind and those of the brain. To bring this clearly into focus issues regarding the application of the identity theory of the mind, it is necessary to consider the nature of the theory, phenomenal properties, causal elements, functionality factors, and the aspect regarding human consciousness (Smart, 2011). In reference to the nature of identity theory, there is definite involvement of the human sensual factors. Smart (2011) makes reference to Ryle’s concept of behaviorism by suggesting that the nature of identity theory borders on elements of sensation, imager, and consciousness. This implies that how the human mind interprets a particular concept is solely based on the perception it has an individual based on their sensual perception.

To illustrate the nature of identity theory of the mind, one would pose the following question: Is lightning just a bright light or a discharge of electrons from the sky? The interpretation of this question will entirely depend upon the respondent’s disposition with regard to knowledge and human action. Whenever lightning takes place and it is accompanied by the physical transmission of light and thunderous sound, the first reaction is normally directed towards the physical attribute of lightning, which is the flash of white bright white light. Hence, in most situations, the mind will seldom think about the actual transmission of an electrical signal in the form of electrons. This is partly driven by the tendency of the mind to interpret create an imagery of what is happening based on the vivid elements that are received from the event at that specific time. According to Smart (2011), one’s sensation and recognized awareness are separate manifestations of the human nature; hence, following Hume’s principle, it may not be possible to delineate one from the other. Nevertheless, in real life the mind seems to treat the two factors as separate entities. For example, the first reaction of a lightning is to look for shelter, which is normally driven by the fear generated from the thunderous effect of sound that follows afterwards.

Indeed, from this interpretation we can also take into account the concept of eliminative realism, which proposes that the human mind does not necessarily take into account imagery, consciousness, or physical sensations. This seems to suggest that these elements are nonexistent, which implies that they are virtual or replaceable aspects. However, are they really replaceable taking into account the connection between the mental and biological functions? Therefore, it means that there is a major conditioning role played by previous experiences, which also shape the way the human mind perceives certain events.

There is also an aspect of the phenomenal and functional properties pointed out by the identity theory of the mind. To illustrate this concept one may ask the following question: Is there any phenomenal difference between the functional properties of the human and animal anatomies? This question can be directed to a medical doctor and veterinary doctor. In essence, the training undergone by both individuals already set them on a collision course because it puts emphasis on the physical differences and functional properties. On the other hand, despite the biological similarities between the two sides, it is still challenging to convince both parties regarding the similarities existing in terms of their biological similarities. A medical doctor whose main focus is on the functionality aspects of the human anatomy would rarely appreciate the fact that the differences existing, if any, are very minimal. A veterinary doctor on the other hand may bring in concepts such as basic nutrition of the two; however, he may not be right given the fact that we are aware about the four main nutrition blocks in any food regardless of the food type, which are: proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals. Therefore, the same way a cow may generate its nutrition from eating grass, it is essentially the same way a human derive his protein after slaughtering the same animal (cow) that are the grass. Hence, there is an ironic situation created in interpreting the phenomenal differences based on the identity theory of the mind.

Soames (2003) brings Wittgenstein’s philosophical formulation on the mind regarding how the mind derives social meaning to language. Based on Wittgenstein’s underpinnings, in as much as language may exist in a special logical structure, the meaning derived will entirely depend on the true functions without taking into account the anatomy of the sentence (Soames, 2003). This brings in a very interesting perspective regarding language and the mind. Consider the following statements: “I admire her intelligence” and “I admire her beauty”. What meaning can be derived from these statements? Indeed, it may be a challenging initiative at the first instance; however, we can quickly isolate the descriptive words at the end of the sentences, which in this case are: “intelligence” and “beauty”. Ideally, the two words are different in the sense that one refers to the physical manifestation of the body while the other refers to the intellectual properties of the individual.

However, based on the Wittgenstein’s philosophical underpinning “meaning arises from socially conditioned agreement about the use of expressions to coordinate the activities and further the purposes of their users” (Soames, 2003, p.23). Hence, based on this fact, the concept of meaning could be changed by a society’s cultural definition, which attaches social meaning to particular subjects that interests the community. Hence, would be it be right to say that in an individual’s interpretation is determined by the society’s definition? In my own perspective, I do not entirely agree with this perspective given the fact that an individual’s mental states and processes are to some extent determined by the existence of causal relations that influence his or her neural realizations (Smart, 2011). Hence, in as much as the society’s definition play a specific role by shaping the human thought towards a certain dimension, there are also other factors that come into play, which may change the initial disposition. Consequently, this will significantly influence the way one will interpret the concept of beauty by either merging physical and intellectual attributes of expressing them separately.

Finally, it is important to note that establishing a clear framework for explaining the connection between the human brain processes is still far from discovery. In as much as the identity theory of the mind attempts to bring in some facts regarding consciousness, phenomena properties, and casual relations, he fails to take into account social influences on the mind, which are effectively explained by Wittgenstein. Thus, regardless of the course taken, it is also important to acknowledge individual attributes that influence the mind. 

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