The Mind and the Body Essay

The existence and functionality of the mind and the body remains controversial concepts, both in the pre-modern and postmodern world. Ancient philosophers had difficult time explaining the connection or disconnection between the body and the soul – that is, the relationship between the physical properties and the mental properties. The physical science aspects of human beings include time, movement through space, color, weight, and size among others. Similarly, people have the mental properties, which entail mind consciousness – emotional experience, perceptual experience, and others and intentionality – desires, beliefs, and others. Since the self possesses the mental properties, they are private to the subject, unlike the physical ones, which can be observed by all. The body-mind challenge raises several questions – whether the mental states affects the physical states and vice versa. If so, to what extent? – causal question. On the other hand, the ontological question reviews the categories of the two states as well as their definitions.

Plato segmented humans into 3 parts, namely the soul, the mind, and the body. Whereas the body, according to Plato, is the physical, the mind concentrates on the heavenly realm of concepts. In addition, the mind remains immortal, while the body plus its dispositions is mortal. Plato combined Idealism and Materialism major ideas to derive the dualism concept. In his assertions, humans have both the body and the mind – the latter is a thoughtful being, which can live without the former, as it is whole in itself (Robinson). The dualism perception believed that there are more happenings attached to living than the normal aspects we know. Therefore, when the physical world becomes difficult, there exists other available and unutilized means of living. Plato’s Dualism also does not refute the existence of the physical state; he, however, advocates for the need to understand the world of Forms.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) investigated the human body in his “philosophy of mind” and concluded that the motion of systems in our body causes several movements in the human mind. Hobbes went on to criticize Descartes’ (1596-1650) idea of things that think. He denied the existence of non-material substances of the mind since he held that all that existed must have had the material dimension. A thinking thing, according to Hobbes, has to be corporeal since all actions of different subjects can be understood only if they are regarded as material.

Epicurus (341-271 B.C.E.), on his part, believed that the mind and brain are identified together, while mental processes and neural processes are recognized together as well. He identifies the mind as an organ residing in the chest based on the Greek’s assertions that the seat of emotions was the chest. In the identity theory of the mind, Epicurus wanted to develop was the fact that the mind was a bodily aspect, as in interacts with the body. He indicated that the body affects the mind to a notable extent, including disease, drunkenness, and vision show. At the same time, the body is heavily affected by the mind – as evidenced in the mind first plans for the movement of limbs before the body conceptualizes the entire action (O’Keefe). The ability of the bodies to act together with other bodies means that the mind must also be a body. In this regard, Epicurus believed that the mind is corporeal, just like Plato did – since non-bodies are invalid, and are merely empty spaces, which cannot act or be acted upon through means, including atomic processes. The mind is in charge of thoughts and sensations and communicates with the “spirit” within the body (O’Keefe). In modern theory, the spirit and mind in Epicurus identity theory play crucial functions similar to the peripheral and central nervous systems. Likewise, the philosopher believed that the mind could engage in emotional thoughts and sensations when it is within the body and its atoms are arranged in order. When death occurs, the body and atoms – external components – disintegrate.

Gottfried Leibniz, in the philosophy of mind, believed that pre-established harmony secures the mind, implying that there exists no –body-mind connection. Alternatively, there is only a non-causal association of correspondence, parallelism, or harmony between the body and the mind. Leibniz criticized the dualism, idealism, and material concepts (Kulstad and Carlin). The 17th century settings discussed the body and mind as two dissimilar substances even though Leibniz opposed dualism. He opined that mind and body were composed of one substance – monoism, but different metaphysically (Simmons 31). The pre-established harmony gave accounts of the body-mind causation. The doctrine held that all the bodies and minds functions in a way that all their natural conditions and actions are performed in mutual synchronization. In his assertions, Leibniz sensations did believe that mental occurrences could affect bodily activities, and vice versa. However, there exists no influence on the physical events on each other.

Princess Elisabeth (1618–1680) offered Descartes with an alternative epistemology by postulating that the interaction between the body and soul cannot occur. In her several correspondence with Rene Descartes, requested for explanations on the nature of union between the body and mind, their causal interaction, as well as their discrete substances. At some point, Elisabeth rejected the idea of the mind reducing the thoughts to body states – it exists entirely independent of the body, an indication that a thinking thing is a correctly speaking object (Shapiro). She maintained the independence of thought – that is – we have full control over our thoughts and can manage to change our mind perceptions from one state to another, meaning that the order of thinking does not necessarily rely on the ability for thought.

The mind-body concept had received the attention of several philosophers at their respective reigns. Whereas some philosophers, including Gottfried Leibniz, held that there exists no relationship between the mind and the body, the likes of Thomas Hobbes wrote that the two – mental states and physical states – affect each other in equal measure. Notably, the contradictions in the view of the mind and body still leave the comprehension of consciousness on the part of physical machines.

Numerous studies have revealed that the entire systems made are physical in nature, and thus, cannot measure the non-physical state of the mind. Up to this end, there is an urgent need to further the research on the two states to ascertain the existence and coordination of the mind and body from the dualism concept. Visibly, the existence of different schools of thought propagated by the earlier philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Aristotle (Plato’s student), on the body and mind would make arrival to a universally accepted notion challenging. Even Aristotle, on several occasions, disagreed with his teacher’s proclamations. The coordination of the physical and non-physical states of humans will continue to raise coalescing and opposing views.

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Works Cited
Kulstad, Mark, and Laurence Carlin. "Leibniz’s Philosophy of Mind (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013, Accessed 16 Apr. 2019.
O'Keefe, Tim. "Epicurus." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Accessed 16 Apr. 2019.
Robinson, Howard. "Dualism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017, Accessed 16 Apr. 2019.
Shapiro, Lisa. "Elisabeth, Princess of Bohemia (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2014, Accessed 16 Apr. 2019.
Simmons, Alison. "Changing the Cartesian Mind: Leibniz on Sensation, Representation and Consciousness." The Philosophical Review, vol. 110, no. 1, 2001, p. 31.