Descartes: Philosophy of MindUnit 4
Descartes Overall ConclusionsHE ARGUES FOR SUBSTANCE DUALISM: MIND AND BODY ARE TWO ENTIRELY DISTINCT SUBSTANCES.
HE ARGUES THAT THE MIND IS A BETTER KNOWER THAN THE BODY
HE ALSO ARGUES FOR INTERACTIONISM: MIND AND BODY INTERACT CAUSALLY.
Methodological Scepticism Descartes says his senses cant be trusted because they often mislead us He gives the examples of dreaming and the deceitful demon.He says he can doubt what he sees, his memory, and even that he has a body.
Argument 1: The CogitoDescartes finds one thing he can be sure of. In order to have these doubts there must be something to do the doubting. Even if he is being deceived, he must exist in order to be deceived. He concludes I think, therefore I am - cogito ergo sum.
Archimedes AnalogyDescartes believes that the cogito was the foundation of all other knowledge (Foundationalism). Like Archimedes, who wanted to find a firm place from which he could move the entire universe, Descartes wanted to find a firm place to base all knowledge on.
First Evaluation of the CogitoKierkegaard argues that the cogito is just a tautology.A tautology is any statement that is true by definition. For example, All sisters are female or All Bachelors are unmarried. As such a tautology is really a useless statement because you are just repeating yourself or defining a word. Some people think that the cogito is a tautology because the word thinking already includes an I. The word thinking just means that a person must exist to do the thinking.
Second Evaluation of the CogitoHume and Lichtenberg argue that Descartes is not warranted in assuming that just because some thinking is going on there must be some person doing the thinking. There may be thinking without an I. Lichtenberg argues that Descartes should not say I think, therefore, I exist but I think, therefore, thinking is going on.However, Descartes responded to this by denying that the cogito was an argument.
Third Evaluation of the CogitoRussel argues that the word I implies personal identity - an individual person that is the same throughout time. He says that Descartes has not proved that the thing which is currently doing the thinking is an I because he has not proven that it has personal identity.How does he know that the being that is doing the thinking is the same being today that it was yesterday or ten years ago.
What is the I?He is a NOT man because this leads to too many other time consuming questions. He is NOT a body, as he cannot be sure he has a body.He is NOT a soul, which has the attributes of nutrition, sense perception, movement and thinking. Nutrition, sense perception and movement are all dependent on the body, which we cannot be sure of. This leaves only one alternative: he is a thinking thing (also an attribute of the soul)
The I is also an Imagining and Sensing Thing He could use the imagination to find out what other things the I is. However, Descartes says he can invent anything in his imagination, even that which is not real. Imagination also involves contemplating bodily things and we cannot be sure of bodily things. While Descartes cannot be sure that the things that he imagines are real, he can be sure that he does imagine. While he can doubt the contents of his sense experiences, he cannot doubt that he seems to sense. He also doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, etc. All of these things are really just aspects of thinking.
The Wax Argument As the wax is heated and melts each of its sensory attributes changes. If we only had our sense experiences of the wax, we would think that the wax in its original form was a different thing to the melted wax.Thus, the senses dont enable us to know the wax, which is a flexible, changeable and extended thing. It is not through my imagination that I know the wax because we cannot imagine all of the infinite forms the wax might take. CONCLUSION: If sensory perception and imagination have been eliminated, my mind alone must know the wax.
Evaluation of the Wax ArgumentHume would say that our senses see the wax transforming as it is heated and assume that it is the same piece of wax not two different pieces of wax one hard and one melted. Hume would agree that the senses dont give us certainty of the physical world but, as an empiricist, he thinks that we may not have certainty at all.
The Coats and Hats Example If Descartes looks out into the street, he may see people walking about in hats and coats. However, all he has really seen with his eyes is some hats and coats; he hasnt actually seen the people under them. His belief that there are people walking around in the street is actually an inference he has drawn using his judgment.Descartes says that judgment is an activity of the mind. Thus, his belief that there are people in the street is really an act of his mind not his senses or imagination.
The Mind is Better Known than the Body Descartes states that not only does his mind know things more clearly than his body/senses, he also knows of his mind more clearly than he knows the physical world. After all, his perceptions of the piece of wax may be entirely illusory; however, when he is perceiving the piece of wax, he cannot doubt that he is perceiving, nor that he is understanding those perceptions through acts of the mind. Both the perceiving and the understanding prove that he exists.
Mind/Body DualismThus, Descartes has divided his world clearly into two parts. The first is the mind, which is certain, non-physical, unchanging and not extended. The second is the extended material world, including the body, which is changing and is able to be doubted.
Mind/Body Dualism cont(P1)I can conceive of myself being conscious in a world in which there are no material entities (including bodies).(P2)But, if I am conscious at a given time, then I exist at that time (Cogito).(P3) Therefore, I can conceive of myself existing without a body, without corporeal attributes.Thus, having a body is not an essential part of who we are, which is a thinking thing, a mind. Thus, mind and body are separate.
First Criticism of Mind/Body DualismWe know that mind and body causally interact because our thoughts cause our behaviours.How can a non-physical entity, such as a soul, causally interact with a physical body? Descartes just claims that they interact without explaining how.
Second Evaluation of Mind/Body DualismJust because the concept of mind is different from the concept of body, it does not follow that mind and body are different substances. Ryle says Descartes has made a category mistake by thinking that mind and body belong in different categories when they are the in the same category. Ryle gives the example of a person who goes to Oxford University and is shown the buildings, parks, churches and people. After the tour he says I have seen the buildings and people but where is the university?. The person thinks the buildings and the university are two different categories of things when they are really the same thing. Likewise, just because our mind and body are separate things and we use different concepts to describe them it doesnt follow that they must be made of two different substances.
Third Evaluation of Mind/Body DualismIf the essence of my being is thinking, and I stop thinking (when asleep), then I must cease to exist. Descartes suggested in his Replies that I am just not always aware that I am always thinking. But isnt this contradictory? If I am not aware of it how can I be certain that I am thinking?
Armstrongs Overall ConclusionArmstrong is a materialist. He believes that the mind is a material or physical thing.He is also an Identity Theorist. He believes that the mind is identical to the brain. Thus, he rejects Descartes Dualism.Essay tip: This should be clearly stated in your introduction, along with your answer to the essay question, your own opinion, etc.
Armstrong: Philosophy of MindUnit 4
Armstrongs Overall Argument P1. Mental states are the inner causes of behaviour.P2. The inner causes of behaviour are brain states and processes.Therefore: Mental states are identical with brain states and processes.
Argument for Premise 2 P1. Science is the only discipline where learned individuals ever reach consensus. P2. It is rational to believe what learned individuals agree upon. It is rational to believe what scientists agree upon.
P3. Scientists agree that the causes of behaviour are neural (brain) states and processes. It is rational to believe that the inner causes of behaviour are neural states and processes.
First EvaluationHis view of science is questionable. Is science the only discipline that ever reaches consenses about what is true and are scientific truths that reliable anyway? (think about Kuhn and Nietzsches criticism of science).
Argument For Premise 1: Traditional BehaviourismBehaviourism was the dominant materialist theory of mind in the 1950s. Traditional Behaviourism: The mind is not something behind behaviour, but simply part of the behaviour. Rejection: However, people can have certain mental states and not act on them. Thus, mind and body are not the same thing.
Dispositional BehaviourismDispositional Behaviourists, like Gilbert Ryle, say that mental states are dispositions to behave in certain ways. They say that to have a certain disposition is just to say how one would act if the conditions were right. For example, to say that a vase is fragile is to say what would happen to it if it were dropped, struck by a hammer, etc. Ryle is not saying that the vase itself has