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PHILOSOPHY OF MIND :

WHAT IS MIND :

Since time immemorial human being spent a substantial amount of energy in the quest of true representation of human mind. So, the question that arise here is about the existence and location of our mind. If some one asks you, "who is driving your life?" For a large number of people the answer would be our mind. Now, the next question that pops up instantly is about the physical basis of human mind. Where does actually our mind seat at? Is it inside the Brain or Mind has an trancendental origins. An increasingly popular theory of a mind is the Quantum Mind Theory, where it is argued that, the properties of mind can be best understood in terms of quantum processes that have been executed inside our brain while we are thinking.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND:

Philosophy of mind is a branch of modern analytic philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e. the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body.

THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM:

The mind-body problem concerns the explanation of the relationship that exists between minds, or mental processes, and bodily states or processes. The main aim of philosophers working in this area is to determine the nature of the mind and mental states/processes, and how—or even if—minds are affected by and can affect the body.

Our perceptual experiences depend on stimuli which arrive at our various sensory organs from the external world and these stimuli cause changes in our mental states, ultimately causing us to feel a sensation, which may be pleasant or unpleasant. Someone's desire for a slice of pizza, for example, will tend to cause that person to move his or her body in a specific manner and in a specific direction to obtain what he or she wants. The question, then, is how it can be possible for conscious experiences to arise out of a lump of gray matter endowed with nothing but electrochemical properties.

A related problem is how someone's propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs and desires) cause that individual's neurons to fire and his muscles to contract. These comprise some of the puzzles that have confronted epistemologists and philosophers of mind from at least the time of René Descartes.

CONCEPTS OF QUALIA:

Many mental states have the property of being experienced subjectively in different ways by different individuals. For example, it is characteristic of the mental state of pain that it hurts. Moreover, the sensation of pain between two individuals may not be identical, since nor has one a way of measuring how much something hurts nor of describing exactly how it feels to hurt. Philosophers and scientists ask where these experiences come from. Nothing indicates that a neural or functional state can be accompanied by such a pain experience. Often the point is formulated as follows: the existence of cerebral events, in and of themselves, cannot explain why they are accompanied by these corresponding qualitative experiences. The puzzle of why many cerebral processes occur with an accompanying experiential aspect in consciousness seems impossible to explain.

Yet it also seems to many that science will eventually have to explain such experiences. This follows from the logic of reductive explanations. If I try to explain a phenomenon reductively (e.g., water), I also have to explain why the phenomenon has all of the properties that it has (e.g., fluidity, transparency). In the case of mental states, this means that there needs to be an explanation of why they have the property of being experienced in a certain way.

The problem of explaining the introspective, first-person aspects of mental states, and consciousness in general, in terms of third-person quantitative neuroscience is called the explanatory gap. There are several different views of the nature of this gap among contemporary philosophers of mind. David Chalmers and the early Frank Jackson interpret the gap as ontological in nature; that is, they maintain that qualia can never be explained by science because physicalism is false. There are two separate categories involved and one cannot be reduced to the other. An alternative view is taken by philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and Colin McGinn. According to them, the gap is epistemological in nature. For Nagel, science is not yet able to explain subjective experience because it has not yet arrived at the level or kind of knowledge that is required. We are not even able to formulate the problem coherently. For McGinn, on other hand, the problem is one of permanent and inherent biological limitations. We are not able to resolve the explanatory gap because the realm of subjective experiences is cognitively closed to us in the same manner that quantum physics is cognitively closed to elephants. Other philosophers liquidate the gap as purely a semantic problem.

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND IN BUDDHISM:

If one were to ask, 'Which aging & death? And whose is this aging & death?' and if one were to ask, 'Is aging & death one thing, and is this the aging & death of someone/something else?' both of them would have the same meaning, even though their words would differ. When there is the view that the jiva is the same as the body, there isn't the leading of the holy life. And when there is the view that the jiva is one thing and the body another, there isn't the leading of the holy life. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata points out the Dhamma in between: From birth as a requisite condition comes aging & death.

Eastern traditions such as Buddhism do not hold to the dualistic mind/body model but do assert that the mind and body are separate entities. Buddhism in particular does not hold to the notion of a soul, or atman. Some forms of Buddhism assert that a very subtle level of mind leaves the body at the time of death and goes to a new life. According to Buddhist scholar Dharmakirti, the definition of mind is that which is clarity and cognizes. In this definition, 'clarity' refers to the nature of mind, and 'cognizes' to the function of mind. Mind is clarity because it always lacks form and because it possesses the actual power to perceive objects. Mind cognizes because its function is to know or perceive objects. In Ornament of the Seven Sets, Buddhist scholar Khedrubje says that thought, awareness, mind and cognizer are synonyms. Buddha explained that although mind lacks form, it can nevertheless be related to form. Thus, our mind is related to our body and is "located" at different places throughout the body. This is to be understood in the context of how the five sense consciousnesses and the mental consciousness are generated. There are many different types of mind—sense awarenesses, mental awarenesses, gross minds, subtle minds, and very subtle minds—and they are all formless (lacking shape, color, sound, smell, taste or tactile properties) and they all function to cognize or know. There is no such thing as a mind without an object known by that mind. Even though none of these minds is form, they can be related to form.

CONSEQUENCES OF PHILOSOPHY OF MIND:

There are countless subjects that are affected by the ideas developed in the philosophy of mind. Clear examples of this are the nature of death and its definitive character, the nature of emotion, of perception and of memory. Questions about what a person is and what his or her identity consists of also have much to do with the philosophy of mind. There are two subjects that, in connection with the philosophy of the mind, have aroused special attention: free will and the self.

FREE WILL AND HUMAN BEINGS:

In the context of philosophy of mind, the problem of free will takes on renewed intensity. This is certainly the case, at least, for materialistic determinists. According to this position, natural laws completely determine the course of the material world. Mental states, and therefore the will as well, would be material states, which means human behavior and decisions would be completely determined by natural laws. Some take this reasoning a step further: people cannot determine by themselves what they want and what they do. Consequently, they are not free.

This argumentation is rejected, on the one hand, by the compatibilists. Those who adopt this position suggest that the question "Are we free?" can only be answered once we have determined what the term "free" means. The opposite of "free" is not "caused" but "compelled" or "coerced". It is not appropriate to identify freedom with indetermination. A free act is one where the agent could have done otherwise if it had chosen otherwise. In this sense a person can be free even though determinism is true. The most important compatibilist in the history of the philosophy was David Hume. More recently, this position is defended, for example, by Daniel Dennett, and, from a dual-aspect perspective, by Max Velmans.

On the other hand, there are also many incompatibilists who reject the argument because they believe that the will is free in a stronger sense called libertarianism. These philosophers affirm the course of the world is either
a) not completely determined by natural law where natural law is intercepted by physically independent agency,
b) determined by indeterministic natural law only, or
c) determined by indeterministic natural law in line with the subjective effort of physically non-reducible agency. Under Libertarianism, the will does not have to be deterministic and, therefore, it is potentially free. Critics of the second proposition (b) accuse the incompatibilists of using an incoherent concept of freedom. They argue as follows: if our will is not determined by anything, then we desire what we desire by pure chance. And if what we desire is purely accidental, we are not free. So if our will is not determined by anything, we are not free.

THE SELF:

The philosophy of mind also has important consequences for the concept of self. If by "self" or "I" one refers to an essential, immutable nucleus of the person, most modern philosophers of mind will affirm that no such thing exists. The idea of a self as an immutable essential nucleus derives from the idea of an immaterial soul. Such an idea is unacceptable to most contemporary philosophers, due to their physicalistic orientations, and due to a general acceptance among philosophers of the scepticism of the concept of 'self' by David Hume, who could never catch himself doing, thinking or feeling anything. However, in the light of empirical results from developmental psychology, developmental biology and neuroscience, the idea of an essential inconstant, material nucleus - an integrated representational system distributed over changing patterns of synaptic connections - seems reasonable. ...
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