RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650) • Postulated a separation between the mind and the body. • Body—a machine that moves in predictable ways. • Mind—free and could decide the actions of the body (uniquely human).
DESCARTES • Believed that the pineal gland was the point of contact between the mind and the body. • The mind or the physical environment can initiate behavior. • The writings of Rene Descartes represent one of the most important examples for the scientific renaissance to come. His ideas were to have a long-lasting influence on psychology.
The Mind-Brain Relationship • The Brain and Conscious Experience • Mind-body or mind-brain problem • What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? • Dualism • The belief that mind and body are different kinds of substances (thought substances and physical substances), that exist independently but somewhat interact. René Descartes: mind and brain interact at a single point, the pineal body.
WILLIAM JAMES • Consciousness functions as a unity whose purpose is to allow the organism to adjust to the environment. • It had a purpose.
We use this folk psychology all the time, to explain and predict each other’s behavior; we attribute beliefs and desires to each other with confidence – and quite unselfconsciously – and spend a substantial portion of our waking lives formulating the world – not excluding ourselves – in these terms. …Every time we venture out on the highway, for example, we stake our lives on the reliability of our general expectations about the perceptual beliefs, normal desires and decision proclivities of the other motorists. We find…that it is a theory of great generative power and efficiency. For instance, watching a film with a highly original plot, we see the hero smile at the villain and we all swiftly and effortlessly arrive at the same complex theoretical diagnosis: “Aha!” we conclude (but perhaps not consciously), “He wants her to think he doesn’t know she intends to defraud her brother!” Dennett (1987)