Following my first post on the mind body connection that you can read it by clicking on this link: http://the mind body connection I I will discuss dualism.
Before digging deeper on dualism, there is a point in making a detour by the brain that was not aforementioned. As it is widely known, the brain is the most complex organ and mechanism. It is compared to an automatic device for control and computation. It is no strange that a clinical death is recognized as the death of the brain.
The brain is “the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system enclosed in the skull and continuous with the spinal cord through the foramen magnum that is composed of neurons and supporting and nutritive structures (such as glia) and that integrates sensory information from inside and outside the body in controlling autonomic function (such as heartbeat and respiration), in coordinating and directing correlated motor responses, and in the process of learning”. In further definitions, the brain is the equivalent of the mind, the intellect and the intellectual endowment. The problem of the mind body connection lies in the brain:
Are the mind and the brain the same? Is the mind inside the brain, therefore inside the body? If it is so, how can their relationship be established?
Here dualism would attempt to answer these complicated questions. Dualism comes from the word duo, meaning two; dualism is a philosophical and a religious current stating that humans are made of two different dimensions, the spiritual and the matter, as in the mind and the body. In this system of beliefs, the mind is “inside” the body, which explains the idea of the immortality of the soul in certain religions.
Plato was among the first to highlight the idea of the mind (or the soul) being originally in the transcendent Ideals. The soul would fall and incarnate in a body; therefore the mind is trapped in the body which becomes “the tomb of the soul” according to Plato. His philosophy and teaching was always about the urge of the mind to escape the body to reach Ideals through their contemplation.
However, Plato’s radical dualism doesn’t explain how the mind and the body, so divergent in their respective natures, are able to connect. Plato’s influence was and still immense on monotheistic religions, on the medieval scholastic philosophy but also on actual system of thoughts. Think about the dilemma about abortion or euthanasia for example; ethics would come into play here depending on the definition of an embryo as a growing soul or as cells reproduction. Two definitions would give two ways in treating the problem bio ethically.
20th century French philosopher Henri Bergson suggests a more flexible dualism which can explain the mind body connection. To make it short, there is no mind without a brain as an organic and neuronal basis. In order to explain the connection between the two dimensions, he compares the brain to the instruments of an orchestra and the maestro to the mind. He suggests that music, made possible by the maestro and the orchestra’s instruments is wider than the musical instruments themselves. In other words, no instruments no music. In addition, no maestro would lead to a cacophony. The maestro leads and manages all sounds to produce a symphony (sym= with; phony=voices/sounds). That being said, the mind, the intellectual endowment, thoughts, feelings, emotions are the final results of the osmosis or the synthesis of multiple micro functions of neurons, hormones and chemical actions and reactions.
So far, cerebral imagery can trace organic activities but not thoughts and ideas. The content of an idea can’t be traced so far and hoping it will never be traced by artificial intelligence for freedom of thoughts would be in danger.
Criticizing the metaphysical aspect of dualism in approaching the mind body connection, monism will fire back more “logical” statements: we are not two dimensions but one: the body or the mind. Then what is the materialist monism (the body)? And what is the immaterialist monism? Monism will be discussed in a further post.