Descartes´ Mental And Physical Substances Essay

1501 words - 6 pages

When Descartes published his ideas in his Meditations on First Philosophy, his ideas were not new, but nonetheless groundbreaking. He proposed there were two separate types of matter or stuff that can exist independent of each other. These are physical substances and mental substances. The physical can only occupy space in the real world, and cannot do any of the things we attribute to mental faculties, such as thinking and reasoning. Though the mental cannot be present in the material world, it can surely have an effect on what the physical body does. Substance dualism, therefore, gives way to the idea of an immortal soul that occupies a different realm than our physical bodies.
The question then is how do the mental substances affect the physical, and vice versa? Because obviously when I stub my toe, though I am only feeling a physical pain, I still feel it as a mental event and, if you will, it affects my “soul”. If these two substances occupy different realms, how can they possibly interact? This is called the mind-body problem, and has been discussed ever since Descartes published his ideas in the sixteenth century. There are two sides to the problem; one dealing with how something mental can cause something physical, and the other addressing how something physical can cause something mental. The real question we must grapple with is how can brain processes cause mental phenomena to begin with? Or how can brains produce the mind, if they even do?
Epiphenomenalism is the idea that mental states are merely byproducts of physical states, and begs the question of how mental states could cause a physical state and have an effect on the physical world. According to this view, John Searle likens consciousness with the froth in a wave or the flash of sunlight reflected off the surface of the water. While it might be there and might exist, it is ultimately worthless and does not really matter. Obviously this goes against common thinking, because one can easily see that mental states do matter and affect physical and brain states. The question then is how do they do so?
2. Functionalism and the Chinese Room
Functionalism is the idea that brain states are equivalent to their functional roles within the brain itself. That is, functionalists are concerned with how these mental states are related to their causal role and how the functions are organized, much like software programs on a computer. Searle poses an argument against functionalism that he published himself, called the Chinese Room argument. Let’s say I was placed in a room full of boxes of Chinese characters, and I have a book that enables me to answer questions posed in Chinese. There is a computer on which I receive Chinese symbols, and unknowing to me, are questions. All I have to do is refer to the rule book and pick out the appropriate symbols from the boxes in the room and enter them back into the computer. It can be assumed that I can pass the Turing test for understanding...

Find Another Essay On Descartes´ Mental and Physical Substances

The Mental and Physical Demands of Golf

2671 words - 11 pages broke down my thesis into a simple question and that question was is golf more of a challenge to people mentally or physically. Golf is a relaxing hobby but I also feel that it is the most difficult sport to master and perform at a high level every time you golf. You have to have both the mental and physical parts of your game intact each time out and many do not have that. Both the mental and physical parts of your body are very difficult to

Title: Physical and Mental Abuse on Slaves

961 words - 4 pages Book: Narrative of The Life of Frederick DouglassAuthor: Frederick DouglassThe essay is about the how significant both physical and mental abuse was important for the slave owners described in the Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass.Frederick Douglass who was born in 1895 might have been the most influentialAfrican-American of his time or possibly ever. He rose up from the hardships he had fromhis birth to become a internationally known

Siddhartha Essay: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Journeys

1540 words - 6 pages Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Journeys in Siddhartha     In Hesse's novel, Siddhartha the title character, Siddhartha leaves the Brahmins in search of Nirvana - spiritual peace.  The journey he endures focuses on two main goals - to find peace and the right path (http://www.ic.ucsb.edu/~ggotts/hesse/life/jennifer/html).  Joseph Mileck, the author of Hermann Hesse:  Life and Art, asserts that Siddhartha focuses on a sense of unity

Helping Children From Physical And Mental Violence

1345 words - 5 pages worker I will be able to help make other lives better by relating to some of their personal situations, helping kids cope with physical and mental abuse, by providing child protection services. People often benefit from hearing from others who have been in similar situation. As a child I was sexually abused, put in foster care and adopted. Being abused will help me to better relate to children who are going through the same things and I will be

Mental and Physical Confinement of Women

879 words - 4 pages biting all the stripped wallpaper to free this women. As her husband walks in on this turmoil, he suddenly loses consciousness. The narrator exclaims, “ [She has] to creep over him every time!” This very line shows how irrational the woman is as a result of her mental and physical quarantine in the vast, yellow room. In the late 1800’s to the 1900’s women were not superior. Their spouses did not only govern them constantly, they were in complete

Sleep, Dreams, and Our Mental and Physical Processes

1647 words - 7 pages Sleep, Dreams, and Our Mental and Physical Processes Scientists have been researching and conducting studies to discover the true meaning of sleep and dreams. Scientists have developed a few theories on whether we sleep and dream to build up our mental or physical energy. According to the author of an article in Encarta Encyclopedia, Siegel defined sleep as the "natural state of rest characterized by reduced body movement and decreased

Life after War: The Mental, Physical, and Social Health Effects

1334 words - 6 pages physical, mental, and social wellness. The human body is an unbelievable phenomenon with complex mechanisms that benefit from good physical health and well-being. A major contributor to positive physical health is nutrition; however, according to a dietitian employed at the Alexandria VA Hospital there is indisputable evidence that veterans suffer from malnutrition due to food rations and lack of resources. Furthermore, war exposes soldier to

Bullying can Affect a Childs Mental and Physical Health

634 words - 3 pages A Review of the Literature For many years, bullying has been a major problem in many schools. Bullying is associated with serious health concerns, whether a child is the bully or the victim. Kids who are victims of bullying usually have lasting effects on their physical and mental health. This literature review describes the effects of bullying approaching the following topics: • Physical effects • Social impacts • Emotional difficulties

Physical and Mental Limits in the Movie: A Beautiful Mind

804 words - 3 pages addresses the issue of performance in society; the article concentrates its attention on a doctor who suffers from cancer. Mental and physical deficiencies do not hinder the ability to be a productive member of society. The drive that the individual has and the resources that are made available are better indicators of productivity for those with mental or physical limitations. The article the “The Patient Scientist”, tells the story of a doctor who

Mental Health, Physical Health and Death in Australian Society Today

1447 words - 6 pages the legal age of eighteen, and when drunk some often do something they will always regret (Ross, Trevor L, 2009, p1). Not only does this may cause problems massively to the health of underage Australians, this can have a large affect on those young Australians leading into adulthood. Within Australian society health is the biggest problem that is caused by alcohol. This essay will discuss mental health, physical health and death in Australian

Work Stress, Effects of work stress on mental and physical health

3019 words - 12 pages person reacts to stress emotionally, mentally, and physically. There are, however, common effects of stress for most people on the physical and mental body.2.1 Physical EffectsThe researcher Blyth in 1973 identified a list of diseases which have a fairly high causal relationships with stress. His evidence was obtained through interviews with medical experts, review of reports by the World Health Organization and consultations with the J.R. Geigy

Similar Essays

Mental And Physical Confidence Essay

751 words - 4 pages not like; who you have a crush on; what your past way like; and what you want your future, adult life, to be like. Confidence is divided in to two sections, mental and physical. Physical confidence is shown when you are trying to run a 4:50 pace for the one mile. You have to be confident that your body is stronger than it really is. This is where the mental confidence comes in to help support your physical confidence. Your brain needs to tell your

Physical, Mental, And Social Health Essay

1895 words - 8 pages Health is a condition of optimal well being. Being healthy includes being in a state of physical, mental and social well being. I have been exposed to the healthy and the unhealthy in all three areas. Growing up I had two younger brothers with chronic illnesses. Chronic illness is a recurrent illness or disease with periods of exacerbation and remission. One of my brothers was extremely ill with a chronic kidney disease and on several

Descartes And The Existence Of Physical Objects

673 words - 3 pages Descartes and the Existence of Physical Objects In his sixth meditation Descartes must return to the doubts he raised in his first one. Here he deals mainly with the mind-body problem and tries to prove whether material things exist with certainty. In this meditation he develops his dualist argument; by making a distinction between mind and body; although he also reveals that the are significantly related. He considers existence of the

Physical, Social, And Mental Health Analysis

1175 words - 5 pages The health triangle is a triangle that has 3 different aspect of your everyday life. The most commonly known factor is physical health. Physical health is the body’s ability to function depending on the state of your body and how it is treated. This includes exercise, nutritions, rest, and weight managements. The remaining two factors is known as emotional/mental and social. Although it is not considered by many people, the two factors is just