An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind: Souls, Science by D. Cockburn

By D. Cockburn

The ebook is an creation to the philosophy of brain. whereas a couple of such introductions can be found, this ebook differs from others in that, whereas rejecting the dualist method linked particularly with Descartes, it additionally casts critical doubt at the varieties of materialism that now dominate English language philosophy. Drawing specifically at the paintings of Wittgenstein, a crucial position is given to the significance of the idea of a man or woman in our thought of ourselves and others.

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We can conclude, Descartes suggests, that the relation between him – that is, his mind – and his body is not like that between, for example, a smile and the face that the smile is on. The smile is not ‘entirely and truly distinct’ from the face; as we see when we recognize that we cannot form a clear and distinct idea of a smile quite independently of any idea of a face with a smile on it. In that sense, we do not know what it would be for there to be a smile without a face. By contrast, Descartes insists, he is quite clear what it would be for him to exist without a body.

This, it is suggested, provides corroboration of their reports. It is not simply that it seemed to her as if she left her body: as it might seem to someone in a dream. We have real independent evidence that the person did leave her body and observe the world from a point external to it. And that is to say, we 16 An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind have real empirical evidence that, as Descartes maintained, a person is something distinct from his or her body. I want to suggest that, at the very least, a considerable amount of work needs to be done at a number of points if it is to be shown that phenomena of this kind bear on our picture of ourselves in anything like the ways suggested.

A question that can and needs to be asked, quite independently of any investigation into whether there are such cracks, is this: why should it be thought that whatever seeps in through such cracks is of any value? Consider the question of responsibility. Suppose that we could accept that a person is essentially an ‘immaterial’ being. How would this help the idea that we are in some sense responsible for what we do? If the claim that something is ‘immaterial’ simply means that you cannot see it, touch it, weigh it, and so on, then it needs to be shown why an immaterial being should not be every bit as determined by ‘impersonal mechanisms’ as a material being can be.

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