The Instigator
DangerRingo6
Con (against)
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The Contender
WillYouMarryMe
Pro (for)
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Does the mind exist apart from the body?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 925 times Debate No: 71964
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
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DangerRingo6

Con

One topic in philosophy that has been, and continues to be debated is the Mind-Body Problem. Do the mind and body exist in separate realm, or as different substance? Or are they both located in the same reality? Does an object or entity need a brain in order to have a mind?

I will be arguing that the mind and body are both of the same substance; both firmly entrenched in the physical world, and reliant on the laws of the natural world.

Rules:
Round 1 - Acceptance; statement of thesis.
Round 2 - Opening argument including main arguments, and definitions (if necessary).
Round 3 - Cross-examinations.
Round 4 - Final counter-arguments and closing statements.

I look forward to hearing from my opponent!
WillYouMarryMe

Pro

I accept!

I will be arguing the view of interactionist Substance Dualism.

"Substance dualists typically argue that the mind and the body are composed of different substances and that the mind is a thinking thing that lacks the usual attributes of physical objects: size, shape, location, solidity, motion, adherence to the laws of physics, and so on. Substance dualists fall into several camps depending upon how they think mind and body are related. Interactionists believe that minds and bodies causally affect one another" [1].

I look forward to an interesting debate :)

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
DangerRingo6

Con

I noticed the comments, and I just want to show my thanks to my opponent for making the time to do this debate!

I would suggest that the opponent has the burden of proof, but I am open to discussion on that.

I'll start off with definitions[1]:

Physical: 1. of or relating to the body; 2. of or relating to that which is material: the physical universe; the physical sciences;
3. noting or pertaining to the properties of matter and energy other than those peculiar to living matter.

Mind: in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.

Physicalism: 1. a doctrine associated with logical positivism and holding that every meaningful statement, other than the necessary statements of logic and mathematics, must refer directly or indirectly to observable properties of spatiotemporal things or events.

Dualism: 1. the state of being dual or consisting of two parts; division into two; 2. Philosophy- the view that there are just two mutually irreducible substances.

Materialism: 1. preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.

And I wish this also to be known, and please be known that this is a basic definition of the concept:
[paraphrased from source 2]

First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it merely changes form.
________________________________
I have chosen to argue the side of physicalism and materialism in this debate. I strongly believe that there is no realm that is outside of the material and physical world. I argue that the mind is purely the result of electrochemical processes in the brain.

There is evidence that our mind is purely the result of electrochemical processes in the brain; they are not objects. Jeffrey Olen, a contemporary philosopher, suggested that thoughts are not objects in themselves, but simply the event that is occurring between the mind and the brain. Olen equates thoughts to a handshake; often we think of a handshake as an object you can "give" or "receive," but the only objects involved are the two hands, and the handshake itself is only an event [3]. If we consider thoughts and feelings as events, they would simply be the result of the two objects of external stimuli and the brain's chemical response to it. This would avoid the problems associated with claiming a non-physical existence of the mind. Advances in neuroscience support the physicalist/materialist's views.

The dualist asserts the opposite, that the mind is separate from the body, and these two entities can causally interact with one another. I contend that this is impossible. To suggest that a physical being can causally interact with a non-physical being violates the first law of thermodynamics. If such an event could occur, it would be impossible to study, being that the immaterial is immeasurable and not perceivable by humans. I have some questions for my opponent to answer in order for their answer to be true. If the brain and the mind are in separate realms, how can they can they causally interact?
Where could this interaction be occuring?

Rene Descartes was a renowned dualist, whose Argument from Indivisibility states that "there is a great difference between a mind and a body, because the body, by its very nature, is something divisible, whereas the mind is plainly indivisible. . . insofar as I am only a thing that thinks, I cannot distinguish any parts in me. . . . Although the whole mind seems to be united to the whole body, nevertheless, were a foot or an arm or any other bodily part amputated, I know that nothing would be taken away from the mind. . ." [4].

If this were true, then how could the dualist explain the radical changes in personality and intellect when an individual is subject significant brain damage? I cite the case of Phineas Gage, who was described as a likable and intelligent person before he was in a serious accident, and suffered severe damage to the left front lobe of his brain, and afterwards exhibited a distinguishably different personality and level of intelligence [5]. If the brain and mind were completely separate, this would not account for this phenomenon.

Citations:
[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] Jeffrey Olen, "Persons and Their World: An Introduction to Philosophy"
[4] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[5] http://www.smithsonianmag.com...
WillYouMarryMe

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for his argument.
In this round, I'll offer a brief case for substance dualism.

"What is physical matter, the brain, composed of? Grey tissue. Neuron firing. Stimulation of C-fibers. Shifting in voltage. Chemicals releasing. But what is 'mind'? The self. Sensations. What something feels like. Beliefs. Desires. Thoughts... We can understand everything there is to know about neuron firing patterns, but this won't tell us what something actually smells like to that person. So if the C-fiber stimulation and the pain I feel when I step on a lego were the exact same thing then they wouldn't be such completely dissimilar things. But you could scan my brain however many times you like, identify neurons, but you will never 'feel' my pain." [1]

The point of the above quotation is that scientific explanations of consciousness completely fail to explain why we are able to experience the world in first-person; such explanations can only describe a mechanical, deterministic and impersonal view of human beings and of the world. A computer, no matter how highly advanced, does not have its own first-person perspective-- it is not conscious; only humans have that capability, as a result of their consciousness. Scientific explanations of the brain attempt to reduce us to impersonal robots; but such a view blatantly contradicts reality-- we obviously do have a first-person perspective. Consciousness cannot simply be a by-product of the brain's function because it is fundamentally different from the brain in that it is inherently first-person, while matter (i.e. the brain) is inherently third-person.

Sam Harris explains: "to say that consciousness may only seem to exist is to admit its existence in full-- for if things seem any way at all, that is consciousness. Even if I happen to be a brain in a vat at this moment-- all my memories are false; all my perceptions are of a world that does not exist-- the fact that I am having an experience is indisputable (to me, at least). This is all that is required for me (or any other conscious being) to fully establish the reality of consciousness. Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion." [2]. When two things (i.e. consciousness and the brain) seem blatantly dissilimar, it is not my burden of proof to show that they are, indeed, different things; it is the burden of the person claiming they are the same to prove their counter-intuitive assertions.

Thus, mind is of a seperate substance than that of the brain and the body.
The resolution is affirmed.

.


[1] http://www.debate.org...
[2] http://www.samharris.org...
Debate Round No. 2
DangerRingo6

Con

"The point of the above quotation is that scientific explanations of consciousness completely fail to explain why we are able to experience the world in first-person; such explanations can only describe a mechanical, deterministic and impersonal view of human beings and of the world."

Even in an impersonal and mechanical world, the first person can be easily explained. It is only through sense experience that we have perspective. Were we to have no eyes, no nose, no ears, and no feeling in our fingers, would we still have perspective? The brain needs these mechanisms to safely and properly run the other systems of the body, and without these mechanisms, perspective would be meaningless. Even if such a deterministic world were to found to be truth, what meaning does impersonal have? The failure to establish a reason for making the world more personal out of seemingly impersonal properties does not provide evidence for the contrary. Sartre would agree, that this impersonality could be labeled as your facticity, and your ability to rise above and personally make meaning of it would be your transcendence. [1]

This statement also suggests that humans are the only beings who experience a first-person perspective. Do animals experience them? "...even if careful observationandexperimentation don"t allow usto precisely characterize the contents ofanimal thoughts in humanlanguage, it would be rashto conclude that animals don"t think." [2] Animals have the capacity to engage in rational thought as much as humans.

Though I appreciate the Harris quote, I fail to see how that supports the argument that substance dualism is more reasonable. Conscious does indeed prove existence, but it does not prove that existence of any being, whether it be the brain or the mind, is outside of the physical realm. As I had mentioned in my opening statement, all too often are thoughts considered objects. Thoughts and introspection are merely the result of the physical events in the brain, not physical objects that occur within it. "...doubt arises because, on the face of it, introspection is a perceptual faculty like vision or touch, different from more familiar perceptual faculties only by being directed upon one's mental states rather than upon one's surroundings." [3] The author of this quote has a fine point, that introspection is just another perception. A perception that would be impossible without the brain to perceive and process it.

"It is far better to perceive the world as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." [4] Sagan was implying that even if the universe was cold and impersonal, there was still beauty to be found in it.

Thank you.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://www.yorku.ca...
[3] http://infidels.org...
[4] Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World"
WillYouMarryMe

Pro

I concede the debate. You win.
Debate Round No. 3
DangerRingo6

Con

Though I wish that this debate could continue, I would like to thank my opponent for participating in this debate with me. This is among my first debates on this site, and I appreciated having an experienced debater like my opponent to help develop my skills.
WillYouMarryMe

Pro

WillYouMarryMe forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by n7natnat 1 year ago
n7natnat
Ok
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 1 year ago
WillYouMarryMe
sorry about my lack-luster opening argument...
I promise I'll do better in subsequent rounds.
Posted by UndeniableReality 1 year ago
UndeniableReality
Short opening argument. What's the character limit?
Posted by n7natnat 1 year ago
n7natnat
lol ive heard
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 1 year ago
WillYouMarryMe
yes, fairy tail is amazing.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 1 year ago
WillYouMarryMe
I actually have no idea what my real stance on this topic is.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
Envisage
Devils advocate, Pro?
Posted by n7natnat 1 year ago
n7natnat
So? I prepared for counter arguments. Any great writer does that. And I can guess your a Fariy tale fan? My cousin likes that show fyi
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 1 year ago
WillYouMarryMe
I haven't even posted my argument yet -_-
Posted by n7natnat 1 year ago
n7natnat
plus noticing how taking drugs can affect what you see, what you remember, and what you "think", that can only happened if a physical action or object affects another physical subject. But if the mind and thought are outside of us, then wouldn't it be impossible for a physical essence to affect a transcendental essence? If that was the case, drugs shouldn't be able to affect our memories, our thoughts and etc. It could only happen if our mind was physical. In that case, drugs can affect our thoughts, imagination, and our inspirations.
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