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The Plausibility Of Analytic Functionalism Essay

2109 words - 8 pages

The tenets of analytic functionalism worked well at attempting to align the philosophies of behaviorism and the identity theory, and though there are many objections to the theory’s method of formulaic definition of mental states, I find that analytic functionalism is a plausible theory that describes the mind. I find that in determining a means in which to define mental states, analytic functionalism demonstrates an ontological method in which one can characterize the mind using statements that can endure more rigor than “folk psychology” alone. I will argue this by first describing the progression into functionalism and the specifics behind analytic functionalism. I will then describe some of the prominent objections of functionalism including Ned Block’s “Nation of China Brain” argument , John Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument , and those that address the whether or not analytic functionalism falls under the realm of ontology. Beyond these arguments, I will provide my counterexamples for these claims and provide reasoning for analytical functionalism’s reasonable credibility as a proper philosophy of the mind.
In the development of the philosophy of mind, many had come to rely on Descartes and his Meditations on First Philosophy. Dualism and the understanding of the causal relationship between the mental realm and the physical world had been widely accepted. Though, doubts had begun to sprout as considerations of the exclusivity of a person’s mental realm came into question. With developments in the field of psychology in the late 19th-century, Sigmund Freud had theorized on the idea that the mind is not always aware of its mental state and that humans tend to ignore or deny the underlying thoughts that are taking place under the realm of consciousness. Only through introspection are deep thoughts unearthed, and even at times, the depths of the human mind are unreachable and go unnoticed.
To many, this seemed unfitting from a scientific point of view. How is it that we within our own minds cannot be aware of our mental state? How can we begin to postulate on the mental states of others? These questions began to gain prevalence as scientists discussed the validity of the premises held by dualism and modern psychology that the mental realm was as disconnected from the physical realm as it had been described. With this came the rise of behaviorism.
Behaviorism is a philosophical theory that rejects the idea behind the causal mental-physical realm relationship attributed to dualism and instead takes on a more direct approach of linking a person’s mental states to their actions within the physical world. Mental states no longer function to govern the physical actions of the body, but rather, the states have become descriptors for the disposition of a physical body to behave in a given way. For example, in a dualist view, pain could be viewed as a mental state that causes for the physical body to react by wincing or yelling as a response. From a...

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