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The Mind-Body Debate. Mind-Brain Debate. What is the relationship between mind and brain?. Mind-Brain Debate. We are in fact considering an extreme case of reductionism . Mind-Brain Debate. This involves:. Neuropsychology. Psychologists generally. Biology. Neurophysiology.

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mind brain debate
Mind-Brain Debate
  • What is the relationship between mind and brain?
mind brain debate3
Mind-Brain Debate
  • We are in fact considering an extreme case of reductionism
mind brain debate4
Mind-Brain Debate

This involves:


Psychologists generally



Reducing man to the component parts of consciousness

mind brain debate5
Mind-Brain Debate
  • There is general agreement that the mind (i.e. consciousness) is a property of human beingness.

Without a brain,

there can be

no mind!

mind brain debate how can the two be related
Mind-Brain DebateHow can the two be related?

The body (brain) has Weight, Shape, Density and Physical Existence in time and space

But the mind

has none of these!

mind brain debate7
Mind-Brain Debate
  • The Question is:
  • How can a non-physical entity (the mind)
  • Influence and produce changes in something physical (Brain/Body)
mind brain debate8
Mind-Brain Debate
  • Example: Consider the act of scratching your head
  • In strictly scientific terms, this should not be possible. It is a purely subjective decision.
  • It involves the philosophy of two different kinds of substance:-
  • Non-physical mind and physical body
mind brain debate9
Mind-Brain Debate
  • The event of scratching my head involves the idea of causation.
  • From a materialistic viewpoint that should be impossible
  • Descartes believed that in this case, mind influences body
mind brain debate10
Mind-Brain Debate
  • Bit of a problem, eh? However, Science (including psychology) cannot accept philosophical dualism – it’s either one or the other, mind or body.
mind brain debate11
Mind-Brain Debate
  • There is an evolutionary perspective – what survival value is there in consciousness/mind?
  • No value – unless it can bring about changes in behaviour.
  • Subjective experience says – mind does affect behaviour – try scratching your head!
mind brain debate12
Mind-Brain Debate
  • We have evolved with minds.
  • Biological evolution has been for survival value. If species doesn’t survive it doesn’t evolve.
  • We can assume that mind and body have evolved together for some reason because we have survived!
mind brain debate13
Mind-Brain Debate
  • Two main theories
  • Dualism – mind and brain coexist
  • Monism – mind and brain are separate
dualism theories






Dualism theories


  • Mind influences body through pineal gland
  • But Descartes believed body could not influence mind.
  • Humphrey (1992) disagrees with Descartes.
  • Philosophy of Pain
  • My pain can hardly count as a physical event.
  • It is not part of the objective world.
  • It is not physical
  • From the fact that there is no accompanying brain activity, we coud say that my brain-based pain belongs nowhere else than in the world of physical material. It is, after all, nothing other than a physical event.
  • So, my pain – that is, my experience of pain – depends wholly on brain activity.
  • Problem: to explain how and why and to what end the dependence on the non-physical mind and the physical brain has come about.
  • Somehow, between neural transmission and experience, there is a conversion.
  • It is nowhere near being understood.
Mind influenced by brain – reverse to Descartes.

An Epiphenomenon is ‘an accompanying event’, outside the chain of causation.


  • Behaviour is caused by direct brain action and consciousness is a sort of indicator that it is happening.
  • Yet the mind is not involved in the process.
  • Where have we heard that before?
  • Behaviourism – radical behaviourism in fact.


  • They believe the mind-body influence is two-way
  • A kind of Liberal Democrat of the Mind-Body philosophy



  • Believe that mind and body exist but separately.
  • No effects between them.
  • Sometimes called psychophysical parallelists
monist theories
Monist Theories
  • Can be mentalist – towards the mind end of the spectrum, or materialist, towards the body end.



mentalism or idealism
Mentalism or Idealism
  • Only mental phenomena involved
  • Humanistic Psychology
  • Two types
  • Periphalist
  • Centralist
materialism periphalist theories
Materialism – Periphalist theories
  • The mind is reduced to behaviour
  • Watson claimed that thought was really reduced to subvocalisation – a delicate instrument could pick it up.
  • Logical behaviourism:
  • I think it will rain is translated into behaviour when you unroll your umbrella.
  • The mind = behaviour + disposition to behave
centralist materialism
Centralist Materialism
  • Mental processes are identified with purely physical processes in the brain.
  • This is the aim of Cognitive Neuroscience
mind brain identity
Mind-Brain Identity
  • Centralist materialism
  • Takes the view that mental processes are purely physical processes.
  • They are no more than chemical reactions/physical states in the brain
  • Mental states are equated with mind states
mind brain identity30
Mind-brain identity
  • Place (1956): Is Consciousness a Brain Process?
  • Attempt to identify structures in the brain which correspond to mental states
  • What about brain-dead?
mind brain identity31
Mind-Brain Identity
  • Eliminative Materialism
  • And this really is where cognitive neuroscience is taking over!
  • Attempt to replace psychology with neurophysiology
mind brain identity32
Mind-Brain Identity
  • Crick (1994)
  • “You, your joys, your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions; your sense of personality and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast amount of nerve cells and their associated molecules”