Mind/Brain Identity Theory Essay, Research Paper
Mental processes are physical is equivalent to what is coined The Identity Theory.
Smart’s theses is that mental events are identical to brain processes. The definition of
neurophysiological is to say the science of neurons dealing with living matter such as the
brain. Smart discounts Cartesian Dualism that depicts the mind as a separate entity than
the physical body. In addition, Smart’s theory is a posteriori claim, which is to say that
through an observation or senses we can come to a factual conclusion. The Identity
Theory makes a prediction concerning science and that is that in the future man will be
able to know by fact that the mind is no more than a physically charged form of matter.
In human speech and language we are accustomed to using different terms that have
the same meaning. The classic example is the sensation of pain. A person upon feeling
pain declares, “I am in pain;” however, the fact that there exists in the body
neurotransmitters that fire through synapses to the mass of the brain that cause the brain
matter to fire additional neurons; thus causing the sensation of pain, is the same
definition as the declaration of I feel pain.
The Identity Theory depends on past discoveries that have discounted superstitious
beliefs. Sober uses the example of lightning. He points out that according to the Greeks,
lightning was understood to be a possession of the Greek god, Zeus. However, later man
discovered through science that electricity was responsible for the white bolts of heat. In
the same way, the Identity Theory dives into the future of the sciences to explain the
According to Cartesian Dualism the mind has no matter or substance and is separate
from the physical body. In the Identity Theory, the mind is one with the brain and there
exists no separation of the two. Descartes recognized that the body and even the brain
had mass, but he believed in a casual interaction between the brain and the mind.
Specifically, he thought that the neurons jumped off of the pineal gland to a
unexplainable being that he called the mind. Sober sums up, that the Identity Theory is a
form of materialism and anything that is mental in nature is realistically physical in
nature. In addition, this theory waits for science to discover a physical reason that
humans think that snow is white or how humans came to define a certain color.
Moreover, this theory through discovery would have to prove that everyone sees the same
color with out variation or if there were variation, there would have to be a physical
tangible reason that causes the variation.
An adductive principle, founded by William of Ockham states that it is much easier
to adopt the Identity Theory rather than Cartesian Dualism because it is much simpler in
nature. Parsimony is another term used for simple, but it includes reasoning that it is
more logical to believe in a simple answer than a complex one. For example, if science
should discover that mental processes are physical in nature, why would anyone want to
go through the trouble of separating the two by adding a sort of mysticism to the factual
Of course, if the Identity Theory is an absolute, then the thought of any eternal
existence after death would be preposterous. Once the material matter ceases to exist, so
does the mind. It seems to me that all of mankind innately believes in a life hereafter.
This can be seen by observing man’s need for religion and it is an existing debate
whether even Atheism is a religion of sorts because an Atheist must have faith that there
is no God. Moreover, evolutionists practice faith when they claim that the missing link
exists, but is yet to be found. Furthermore, it has been said that religions originated for
the purpose of controlling the masses, yet in a free country such as America, religions of
all sorts spring up and citizens gravitate to them.
J.J.C. Smart, “Mental Processes are Physical”.