AQA A2 Philosophy of Mind COMPLETE NOTES

Notes compiled from the Cardinal, Jones, Hayward textbook and the Lacewing textbook.

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Saturday, 28 May 2016
Philosophy of mind SYNTHESISED
Key points throughout philosophy of mind
- Cartesian Dualism
Descartes' view that the mind is ontologically distinct from the body
Argument that the mind is res cogitans and the body is res extensa
It is autonomously found and certain for Descartes that `I have a mind'
substance = an entity in which does not depend on another entity in order to exist, entity = a thing
with distinct and independent existence
- Indivisibility Argument
Proof of the dualistic nature of Descartes' mind and body but that the mind is unitary and one
1. My mind is indivisible
2. My body is divisible
3. My body is not my mind
4. It is impossible for anything to be divisible and indivisible at the same time
5. I am a single conscious entity
Makes use of Leibniz' law; two things are the same if, and only if, they possess all the same properties
at the same time
- Dualistic Interactionism Argument; The Passions of the Soul
Interactionism asserts that the mind and body directly causally interact with each other
Descartes' faced criticisms as to where the mind and body actually interact, if they do at all
For Descartes' they definitely do interact, namely, at the pineal gland, a small section of the brain
where the mental and physical supposedly meet
The mental act of `volition' motivates physical action from mental desire; the want to pick up the cup of
tea and the arm outreaching to retrieve it
Physical changes in my body seem to directly or indirectly have caused mental states such as
sensations and beliefs
Physical changes in the sense organs cause various sensory experiences in the mind
The problem Descartes' faces is interactionism's apparent inability to explain how causal interaction
between the mind and the body is possible. There must be some common medium in which
transactions between one and the other can take place

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Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia in her correspondence with Descartes expresses the problem in terms
of the need for some contact between the two substances in order for the mind to affect the body.
Since the mind has no extended surface it is unable to touch the body and so cannot casually interact
with it.
This must mean that the mind has more in common with physical things than dualism allows.…read more

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1. If I can clearly and distinctly conceive of the essential natures of two things separately, it might just be
possible to separate them
2. I clearly and distinctly perceive myself to be essentially a thinking unextended thing (my mind)
3. I clearly and distinctly perceive my body to be essentially an unthinking extended thing
4.…read more

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3. But we can conceive of a world which is physically identical to this one but in which there is no
conscious experience (on other words, such a world is metaphysically possible)
4. Therefore physicalism is false
Dennett: A zombie world is not conceivable. Chalmers zombies are not conceivable. The idea of a
philosophical zombie entails hidden contradictions.…read more

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The argument begins with a thought experiment about a brilliant neuroscientist named Mary. Mary, we
are asked to suppose, has been confined in a black and white room her entire life, having only been
able to access the world via a black and white television screen - this point being, she has never
experienced colour herself.…read more

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Patricia Churchland; "How can I assess what Mary will know and understand if she knows everything
there is to know about the brain? Everything is a lot, and it means in all likelihood that Mary has a
radically deeper and different understanding of the brain that anything barely conceivable in our wildest
flights of fancy"
If Mary did indeed know all the physical facts about colour vision, then she would be able to work out
what colour would look like like,…read more

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Qualia seems to present an explanatory gap between physical facts and subjective feel of our
phenomenal experiences
But if qualia could be shown not to exist, this would provide the physicalist with a powerful counter to
the knowledge argument, however this is difficult, for there seems to be nothing as real as qualia for
Dennett uses Descartes to draw attention to the fact that the physical universe could be merely illusory,
but the subjective feel (qualia) we experience of it,…read more

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- Parallelist Theories: theories of mind that deny a direct causal interaction
between mind and body.…read more

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However, if mental properties are irreducible, but at the same time physical causes alone are needed
to explain behaviour, then we are led to the view that the mind is a product of the brain, but one which
can have no causal influence on the body or its actions.…read more

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The role of qualia: epiphenomenalism is absurd to neglect the role of qualia, that there is definitely an
intrinsic unpleasantness to pain that we are conscious of:
However, Huxley responds with a cowboy movie analogy, that it is merely illusory when someone is
punched in a film, there is no pain. The conjunction of `hitting someone' and the actual `blow' are
produced by a film projector, therefore they are not actually causally linked.…read more


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