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A Defence Of Cartesian Dualism From The Attacks Of Modern Science.

1321 words - 5 pages

Dualism has been given a rough ride. This theory, ascribed mainly to Descartes that the mind is separate from the body, has been justly rejected for many reasons. Descartes theory required the existence of a substance that was mind, as well as a theater in which the mind could view what it internally perceived. As our scientific understanding of how the brain functions to produce consciousness and hence the mind has increased, these two pictures of brain function have been rejected. Some theorist would be content to reject all aspects of dualism along with those which have been shown to be false. This I perceive is analogous to throwing out the baby with the bath water. There are many facets of Cartesian Dualism that are compatible with current discoveries in brain science. This essay will be devoted to the reconciliation of current scientific advancements in brain science with a dualistic version of consciousness.What I mean by "dualism":Dualism is the obvious conclusion that people come too when asked what it is like to be conscious. When I describe my conscious day to day life, I describe events happening both internally, in my mind, and externally, in the outside world which my senses perceive and my mind interprets. This natural feeling of there being two worlds, one internal and personal and the other external and common to all is the basis for the more far fetched ideas of Cartesian Dualism cooked up by Descartes. Descartes tried unsuccessfully to reconcile this natural impression of dual worlds with what was currently understood about neurology and physiology.What I mean by "mind":Mind is where consciousness is happening. Mind is the scientific way of referring to the Cartesian theater. Mind is what we are looking into or at when we close our eyes and picture a purple elephant. Mind is what neurologists have not yet found inside our brain and it is what Descartes thought of as a separate substance from the rest of the body.Dualism is a functional way of looking at brain activities Thomas Nagel is confused by the apparent existence of more than one mind in split brain patients. It is commonly know that, "The left cerebral hemisphere is associated with the right side of the body and the right hemisphere is associated wit the left side." (Nagel, 456) "Both hemispheres are linked to the spinal column and peripheral nerves through a common bran stem, but they also communicate directly with one another, by a large transverse band of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum." (Nagel 456) Severe epilepsy can be cured by severing the corpus callosum and for a period of time this surgery was the norm in the medical community. These patients showed almost no loss of function after the surgery and only through experimental means can a flaw in the system be discovered. Due too the fact that each hemisphere of the brain has different 'jobs' to do in creating a conscious impression of the world, if the two halves of the brain can't communicate our...

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