Imagine you are a bat. You can’t? What if I described to you what it might be like to be a bat? You can’t. Even if I described it in perfect detail, I would never know, and you would never know. Everyone experiences things differently, even bats, and there is no way that we can compare or adjust the way we experience things. Everyone’s body and mind perceive and interpret things completely differently to one another.
I believe that the mind and the body are interconnected in some way, but they are completely different and have different experiences to each other. I also believe that the brain and the mind are totally opposing features of our bodies.
The two competing theories of consciousness refer to the scientific consciousness and the reactions that occur in our brains when we see something, and our individual experiences and perceptions of things that occur in our minds. Substance dualism refers to our body and its physical aspects being wholly independent from our mind and its consciousness. Descartes argues that these two substances behave and be present in their own separate existences. I think the only way these two ‘substances’ could be identical is by (as scientists are) saying that our physical experiences and reactions occur based on our mind’s reaction. For example, these two things would now become attached because our physical being depends on our emotional and mind-being. According to scientists, everything is a physical substance, whereas according to philosophers, there are both mental and physical substances.
Descartes believes what almost any other philosopher would believe: that the mind and body are individual things. He also adopted the theory that there is an interaction between the two, and that the mind and body are dependent on each other. I would see this as an issue because how can they depend on each other and interact, when they are completely independent of each other? Few scientists believe in what Descartes believed (property dualism), but if scientists do believe this, it is generally because they see the mental properties as an extension on the rest of the properties (physical).
I don’t necessarily agree with property dualism, but I do accept that this is a legitimate way of explaining a scientists’ view on how the body and mind can differ. I find that if the mind and body are seen as the one substance, and are not independent, then it is unexplainable how they can be separate. I find it too contradictory.
I believe body and mind are totally opposite. Body focuses on the scientific and physical reactions we as humans have, while mind refers to our emotions and emotional perceptions that we feel. I only mentioned in the table above some of the major properties of both physical things and non-physical things, neither of which we can control; all are involuntary, and all are fully independent from the opposing property.
Physicalism is supported by most scientists in stating that everything has a physical property. In my opinion, I assumed Physicalism became more popular in the 20th century due to everything being more dependent on science, and more about science being discovered, and it was almost proved that everything had a physical state of being.
After researching both ‘Occam’s Razor’ and Cartesian Dualism, I concluded that the only parallel I could see between the two is ignoring what cannot be observed or doubted. Descartes found that he could not trust what could be doubted, in this case, shaving away other variables with ‘Occam’s Razor’. This is how I found it could be applied to Cartesian Dualism; by deducing what cannot be relevant or considered in Descartes’ dualism.
‘Mary’s Black and White room’ experiment is trying to show us that though we may not have experienced some things, if we have the exact physical description from other experiences, we can experience exactly what others have described. I think this story is ultimately trying to point out that we cannot have knowledge of an experience if we only have a description. I think the underlying meaning of Mary’s experiment is to remind us that everyone perceives and experiences things differently and there is no way we can experience exactly the same things, no matter how simple they may be.
If everyone believed in Physicalism, it would completely eliminate the concepts of some religions of having spirits or souls. Not only this, but if there is no recent physical evidence of a God or Jesus, then it would also put an end to the idea of a God to follow. There are many consequences that would eventuate from everyone believing in Physicalism, but they would all follow on from the two main ones mentioned.
In my personal opinion, I believe in dualism definitely. I find the mind and the body completely separate substances, and I believe that there are completely different properties for each (physical actions, emotions etc.). The only parallel I find between the two is that they can both be affected by each other. Both the mind and the body depend on each other and have a strong influence on the other, but they are entirely separate entities.