Advanced Search

Cartesian dualism relies upon two substances, body and mind, which are totally

Cartesian dualism relies upon two substances, body and mind, which are totally distinguished by their properties. While the characteristic nature of body is Extendedness, the mind is known with its capability of thinking. So, Cartesian Dualism is founded on these two basic propositions: 1. All bodies are extended. And 2. All minds are thinkable. Abandoning the latter, the former (1) seems acceptable to all physicalists. But if so, then its contraposition might be true equally. In other words, physicalists should be agreed with this proposition too: 3. All non-extended are non-body The question is how physicalists justify this proposition? In other hand, the unavoidable consequence of this proposition (and its truth) is existence of a non-extended (entity) which isn't body, which isn't justifiable in reductive physicalism approach. So, considering this proposition that in reductive physicalism approach: 4. everything has identify with physics. But, isn’t paradoxical acceptance of (3) and (4)...

Dear Borhan,

The answer to your question requires some deductive logic. Let's start with (1) all bodies are extended, which is Descartes' premise. It follows logically that if something is not extended, then it is not a body. Thus (3) follows logically from (1). You are worried because you think that (3) assumes that something is not extended. But it does not. It only claims that IF something is non extended then it is also not a body. So physicalists can agree with the claim.

Dear Borhan, The answer to your question requires some deductive logic. Let's start with (1) all bodies are extended, which is Descartes' premise. It follows logically that if something is not extended, then it is not a body. Thus (3) follows logically from (1). You are worried because you think that (3) assumes that something is not extended. But it does not. It only claims that IF something is non extended then it is also not a body. So physicalists can agree with the claim.

Sigmund Freud told of a Jewish women who dreamt that a stranger handed her a

Sigmund Freud told of a Jewish women who dreamt that a stranger handed her a comb. The women desired to marry a Christian man which triggered an emotional argument with her mother on the night prior to her dream. When Freud asked her what memories she associated with the word comb the woman told him that once her mother had once told her not to use a separate comb because she would "mix the breed." Freud then revealed that the meaning of the dream was an expression of her own latent wish to "mix the breed." Examples such as this seem like very persuasive evidence of Freud's theory that dreams are a form of wish fulfilment but many scientists and philosophers of science say that Freud's theories can't be scientifically falsified or that he lacks scientific evidence. But what constitutes scientific evidence? Surely Freud is a scientist because he grounds his theories in specific empirical clinical examples that he expresses clearly in a way that even the most uneducated person can understand them? The...

I don't myself think the term 'scientific' is a scientific term, nor have philosophers, such as Grunbaum or anyone else given it a very interesting or useful interpretation. Freud had a lot of ideas. So do contemporary psychoanalysts 100 years on. Psychoanalysis is no monolith. We can ask of any of the many many claims that psychoanalysts have made (under the heading of psychoanalysis, forgetting about what they say about other things): are they well backed by evidence and argument? Do they prove clinically useful and successful. Asking those questions is useful and interesting. Asking whether psychoanalysis is scientific is not.

You are right that some philosophers have dismissed Freud's ideas on the grounds that they are "not scientific." I agree with you that this judgment is too harsh. Freudian interpretations are theories for which there can be evidence for or against. In practice, however, traditional Freudian analysts have been rather quick to accept and reject theories based on little evidence and much "intuitive plausibility." They have not considered that other interpretations of behavior and dreams may be equally likely. The philosopher of science Adolf Grunbaum thinks that the science of psychoanalysis is so sloppy that it should be thought of as "unscientific" or "pseudoscientic." But not all philosophers of science or psychologists reject psychoanalysis. Some think that Freud's specific account (in terms of id, ego, superego) is not as well confirmed as some other accounts (e.g. object relations theory).

The idea underlying many concepts of illness is that something has gone wrong

The idea underlying many concepts of illness is that something has gone wrong with a biological system and some part of that system which has gone awry must be restored to it's proper function. The proper function of a biological systems is usually whatever allows that entity to live, breathe, exerts it muscles freely and vigorously without pain. When it comes to mental illness we extend that idea of proper functioning to anything that causes mental distress and is presumably due to biological problems with the brain. However there seems to me that something about that way of thinking is flawed because while it seems obvious when biological systems are disrupted rather than acting their natural course it does not seem obvious that mental distress is a product of biological aberrations. It seems rather like it is plausible that that is the normal course of life for humans even if that misery has a biological explanation.. So isn't mental illness essentially a flawed concept?

Hi, Miriam. I completely agree. The concept of illness is very flimsy. It is something like: an abnormality or disorder of a mental or physiological organ or system. Attempts to give a serious scientific account of 'normal' or 'orderly' have proved unsuccessful. Illness is just a vague folk notion and probably does not correspond to anything more scientifically or philosophically solid. Questions about the true underlying nature of specific mental illnesses (psychiatric disorders as they are now called), their treatment etc. are best deal with case by case. The same applies to physical illnesses though. There is nothing special about physiology here.

The definition of "illness" that you are using was originally developed by Christopher Boorse, and many others who have looked for an "objective" concept of illness have also adopted it. You are correct to say that on this view, all illness, including mental illness, is due to some dysfunction. And you are correct to note that we do not know (for most mental illnesses) whether or not there is a brain dysfunction. In fact, some have suggested that depression can be a functional response to failure and/or loss. Different concepts of illness are worth considering here. For example, "subjective" concepts in which "illness" is defined as an undesirable or unwanted state. According to such definitions, there is mental illness when there is (serious)mental distress (since distress is undesirable or unwanted). In practice, much can hang on whether or not something is labelled an "illness": medical treatment, insurance reimbursement, sympathy, excuses, responsibility, etc. That's really too bad, in my...