Mind-body materialism is the notion that the products and the operations of the conscious mind come from the functionalities of the physical brain. The theory has been defended in variety of ways taking various perspectives including the interdependence of the body and mind. The reality is that we cannot undermine the mind or eliminate it in the explanation of the materialistic states. Therefore there is a materialistic explanation of the relationship between the mind and brain. The materialists support the notion that the two are the same things. The paper will focus on the available arguments on if the mind and brain are identical and finally test the viability of the explanations.
Arguments for Mind-body Materialism
Lucretius presents an interesting argument about the interdependence that exists between the body and mind; the relationship is that the mind is born within the body, progressively grows as the body does and eventually gets slower and weary with age. Children with tender bodies have weaker judgments as they grow their mind force increases, and at an elderly age they get dull and diminished. Neurologists further support the claim by presenting evidence of diminishing of some mental abilities that come from damage of some parts of the human brain. The materialistic perspective also explains the relationship that the dualist is unable to shows between the mind and body.
A religious perspective presented by dualists on life after death claim that: when we live on earth, the spirit-mind exists alongside the physical body, then upon death, the body dies, the spirit-mind continues to exist afterward. John Locke materialistic argument on life after death is that within this world, it is in Gods capability to create the conscious human mind out of purely physical material that exists as the brain. In this life, therefore, we have the mind represented by the physical material brain. After death, God recreates the mind in a new physical body and that new state either punish or reward a person according to their actions in this world. Therefore the argument is that God will and can restore the state of sensibility even when we exist in another world (afterlife) He, therefore, accepts the ethereal account of life after death and his point is that we cannot argue the mind-brain duality on spiritual grounds.
Three characteristics are associated with the modern dualism philosophy about the mind: non-localizability, private-ness, and intentionality. The third argument for materialism discredits these dualist notions. First the mind is localized within my brain and not narrowed down to a cluster of cells; neuroscientists confirm that consciousness is located within a localized region of interconnected neural activity located at the surface of the neocortex. Secondly the mind is not privet as it can be discovered by the person’s behavior or physiological monitoring. Thirdly neuroscience has developed to the extent that we can comfortably say that the human brain has intentionality.
Inadequacy of Answers
The three cases of evidence present a stronger case that dualism but do not completely solve the mind-brain problem; it just rejects the spirit mind ideas. The question that remains unanswered is how the chemical processes that happen within our brain generate the conscious experiences we have. For example in the case of feeling pain, the physiological process is well defined, but it is not enough to explain how a person experiences pain which isn’t physical. This argument is the basis of modern discussion as they try to solve the relationship between a physical act and an experience that isn’t physical.