chapter  1
13 Pages

The Mind-Body Problem and Substance Dualism

ByBarbara Hannan

Reflective individuals have been trying to say something illuminating about the mind-body problem for thousands of years. Philosophers tend to concentrate their attention on conceptual difficulties that arise from the fact that our ways of thinking and talking about persons are inherently dualistic, despite the mind-brain unity that has become scientific orthodoxy. Substance dualism is the idea that every person is composed of two distinct substances—a physical substance and a mental substance. In effect, Plato's Socrates uses the doctrine of knowledge as recollection to argue for mind-body dualism. Before the philosophical mind-body problem can be discussed in any detail, it is necessary to set aside a certain widespread and almost certainly mistaken view of the nature of the mind: substance dualism. When the human body deteriorates or is damaged and ceases to function, the person's life, consciousness, and rational thought may go on, because the spirit leaves the body and goes elsewhere.