Mind And Body Essay

3126 words - 13 pages

Much of the intellectual history of psychology has
involved the attempt to come to grips with the problem
of mind and body and how they interact.

While the philosophical distinction between mind and
body can be traced back to the Greeks, it is due to
the influential work of René Descartes, (written
around the 1630’s) that we owe the first systematic
account of the mind/body relationship. When Descartes'
friend and frequent correspondent, Marin Mersenne,
wrote to him of Galileo's fate at the hands of the
Inquisition, Descartes immediately suppressed his own
treatise. As a result, the world's first extended
essay on physiological psychology was published only
well after ...view middle of the document...

There is no influence of mind on
body or of body on mind.

“In order to retain the notion of God as the one true
cause without sacrificing the idea of causality as
operative in both the mental and the physical spheres,
Benedictus de Spinoza abandoned Descartes'
two-substance view in favor of what has come to be
called double-aspect theory.” Double-aspect theories
are based on the notion that the mental and the
physical are simply different aspects of one and the
same substance. Nonetheless, he agreed with Descartes
that the world of consciousness and that of extension
are qualitatively separate. He believed that
substance, G’d, is the universal essence or nature of
everything that exists. In other words he believed
that mental incidents can determine only other mental
incidents, and physical motions can determine only
other physical motions, “mind and body nonetheless
exist in pre-established coordination, since the same
divine essence forms the connections within both
classes and cannot be self-contradictory.” These
dual-aspect theories go went through a resurgence
during the 19th century.

Another view introduced by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
was that of psychophysical parallelism, which holds on
to both the dualism of mind and body and the notion of
a regular correlation between mental and physical
events. This view, however, avoids any assumption of
an underlying mind/body connection. It believes that
mind and body are so different, that they cannot
affect one another. They do, however, recognize the
fact that every mental event is correlated with a
physical event.

During the 18th century, the problem of re-relating
mind and body arose. George Berkely talked about the
view of immaterialism in which “he denies even the
possibility of mindless material substance. For
something to exist for Berkeley it must either be
perceived or is the active mind doing the perceiving.
>From this perspective, there is no mind/body
distinction because what we think of as body is merely
the perception of mind. While Berkeley had few
contemporary adherents, immaterialism was to resurface
in the later 19th century in the guise of mind- stuff
theory.”

As the 19th century progressed, the problem of the
relationship between mind and brain became
increasingly present. This is palpable especially in
texts after 1860. To a large extent, this directly
reflected two major developments that converged to
impress philosophers and psychologists with the
centrality of the mind/brain problem. “The formal
beginning of psychology as a modern science came in
1879 when Wilhelm Wundt founded, in Leipzig, Germany,
the first laboratory devoted to experimental
psychology.” Together with Hermann con Helmholtz and
Gustav Fechner, they founded the school of psychology
now labeled determinism. Determinism is based on the
idea that...

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