The Mind-Brain Problem Concerning Dualism and Materialism
I am faced with the philosophical task of defending either dualism or materialism, depending on which one is most attractive to me. So either I support the theory of dualism, which is the belief that there is both a physical and a spiritual state, or I believe in materialism, which is the belief that everything that exists is material or physical. Although I believe materialism to be easier to prove, I find dualism more attractive to believe. Throughout the following, I will attempt to build a case for the theory of dualism giving insights both documented and personal. I will also shed light on the theory of materialism and the proofs that support this theory; showing that although materialism has a strong argument, essentially, it the less attractive of the two.
What I find most appealing about dualism is the belief in the soul and body, spirit and matter. Although materialism is a valid theory scientifically and philosophically, I find dualism to cover a wider spectrum of possibilities. I do not believe that our body and our thoughts and everything that surrounds us are a result of the physical. Materialism removes any problems of relatedness between mind and body by eliminating the spiritual altogether. But as I will show, materialism might have the upper hand in proof but it cannot fulfill or support my need for the spiritual like dualism can.
Dualism supports the possibility that when a person dies, their body might die but their soul continues. It allows one to at least consider this notion along with many others of the spiritual realm. The existence of God, miracles, and unexplained phenomena are just a few things dualism supports. I believe it is ignorant of a person to support materialism just because scientifically it makes more sense. So many people believe in some form of religion or God. Then why would it be illogical to find faith in something you cannot see and that cannot be proven, but there is an instinctive feeling that the possibility exists. For me, there is a great possibility for both a physical and spiritual realm and even though I take dualism on blind faith, I take it because my life makes more sense. With dualism, the existence of God seems possible and death does not seem so final, love seems more special and life seems to have more meaning. Materialism suggests to me that our bodies, our thoughts are a type of mechanical function, whereas dualism gives me a sense of meaning in my life.
There are many textbook arguments against materialism: the divisibility argument, the introspection argument, and the argument for measurement:
The Divisibility Argument
1. My body, which includes my brain, is divisible.
2. (a) I cannot conceive of my mind as divisible.
(b) I cannot conceive of my individual mental states as divisible, either.
3. Therefore, my mind is distinct from any part of my body.
The Introspection Argument
1. Mental states are knowable through introspection.
2. Brain states are not knowable through introspection.
3. Therefore, mental sates are not brain states.
Argument for Measurement
1. Brain states can be located and measured.
2. Mental states cannot be located and measured.
3. Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law brain states are not mental states.
All three of these arguments dispute materialism’s claim that brain states and mental states go hand in hand. The divisibility argument shows that the brain is divisible but not the mind. The introspection argument shows that the mind is knowable through introspection, whereas the brain is not. The argument for measurement shows that brain states can be located and measured, but mental states cannot be. Materialism also violates Leibniz’s Law: If an object or process x is identical with an object or process y, then x and y have all the same properties. That is, if x and y do not have the same properties, then x and y are not identical. So if the brain states are x and the mental states are y and the two are not identical as shown through the previous three arguments, then materialism violates Leibniz’s Law.
From an objective point of view I can see how someone would believe in materialism, but for me, dualism has so much more to offer. Dualism might not hold up as well scientifically as materialism, but to me it holds up better spiritually. So, obviously it is easy for a materialist to rule out dualism based on scientific knowledge. More than likely because he or she is looking solely at the physical and not even giving thought to the spiritual because materialism has ruled out this possibility. I guess I can see that if you accept the premise that everything that exists is material then there really is no validity to considering the spiritual. But to me, my life makes more sense if there is something to consider beyond the material because so much of my life revolves around the spiritual.