Mind’s Nature Better than the Body’s?


The mind-body problem has remained a debatable topic throughout the history of both traditional and modern philosophy. However, Rene Descartes (a rationalist theorist, mathematician, and scientist) pioneered the controversial discussion of the distinction between the body and mind. The philosopher revealed that the mind and body were two separate entities that operated in a dualistic mode. The dualistic theory is significantly recognized in modern-day philosophy. This essay seeks to explain whether the mind’s nature is better than the body’s.

Rene Descartes’ Argument: Theory of Cartesian Dualism

The mind-body distinction is the most recognized legacy of Rene Descartes. The mind’s nature is perceived as better than the body’s (Heil 58). The philosopher asserted that the body and mind were separate and distinct entities. While the body is seen as a material thing extended in the space, the mind is recognized as res cogitans (or “the thinking thing”). This philosophy seeks to explain that the soul is distinctive and disconnected from the body. This viewpoint is identified as the Cartesian Dualism. This theory is supplied by reason. It follows the well-known Latin expression ‘cogito ergo sum’ that means ‘I think, therefore I am’. This expression implies that the mind is detached from the body (Johnson 63). Following this reasoning, the essence of philosophy is to hinder perplexing sensory images from entering the mind. In conclusion, this phenomenon helps the mind contain only the undeniable facts within itself (Johnson 65).

Dennett’s Argument: Folk Theory of Consciousness

On the other hand, Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, claims that the mind’s nature is poorly understood. The philosopher posits that people are far from understanding their minds and its functioning principles because it deceits them unpredictably (Arico 371). The folk theory explains consciousness as a cultural construction that is instilled in the brain during the early life of an individual. This concept focuses on the mental content of the brain and multifaceted information processes that derive sense out of what human beings hear, see, touch, or smell (Arico 375). In this theory, Dennett explains that consciousness can crop up from miscellaneous relations amongst the non-conscious elements of the mind. This knowledge explains the purpose of intentionality and free will in determining and controlling human behavior.

Superiority of Descartes’ and Dennett’s Arguments

Although Descartes theory of Cartesian dualism is widely used to explain the mind-body problem, Dennett’s folk theory of consciousness provides a superior argument (Christensen and Turner 99). Descartes’ theory holds that the mind and body are distinctive substances. However, the theory also explains that they are mutually related. Biological teachings reveal that the body and mind casually affect each other through a feedback mechanism. The Cartesian dualism is underpinned by common sense (Christensen and Turner 101).

Following this concept, the modes of thought differ from the makings of sensible bodies. The controversy arises where Descartes supports that immaterial mind (soul) affects a physical object (body). The argument that the body and mind exist distinctively is supported by both religious and scientific claims. In a religious dimension, the mind is distinct because of its spiritual nature. This underpinning lacks a scientific explanation that can prove the inexistence of a mutual relationship between the two substances. As a result, Descartes inference only asserts that the mind can be present without the body. However, Dennett’s folk theory of consciousness refutes Descartes’ claims by revealing that the mind cannot exist without the body since they are mutually interdependent. In a scientific viewpoint, the body and mind can exist independently based on the mechanistic models (Nath 2250).

A mix-up of Descartes’ claims led to the deduction that non-mental substances such as stones and plants among others also had intellectual characteristics including knowledge. This conclusion misled many people as it created a belief that material things also have mental powers (Nath 2255).

According to Sayre, the superiority of Dennett’s theory is realized where a complete account of consciousness is supported by various concepts (34). The American philosopher used wide-ranging theoretical underpinnings to support the existence of phenomenal experiences and mental states involving taste, feeling, sight, beliefs, and thinking among others. Dennett uses a variety of philosophical ideas to distinguish between non-natural intelligence and neurobiology (Sayre 37).

The concept of consciousness explains the interaction between mental and brain positions. However, Dennett is doubtful about how consciousness developed in the human brain. The folk theory makes an attempt to explain the association amongst judgements, perceptions, and the level of cognizance in both mental and non-mental substances (Sayre 45; Christensen and Turner 98).

The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

Johnson reveals that eyewitness testimony is used in many judicial proceedings to guide the formulation of judgment in courts (102). Various studies have revealed that the predisposition to recall invalid events and details rarely ensued. This situation arises from the inclusion of false facts in the brain. In conclusion, the reliability of eyewitness testimony is considerably low as the brain can be influenced. Today, judicial officers are aware of the likelihood of introducing fabricated memories to eyewitnesses.

Works Cited

Arico, Adam. “Folk psychology, consciousness, and context effects.” Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1.3 (2010): 371-393. Print.

Christensen, Scott and Dale Turner. Folk Psychology and the Philosophy of Mind. London: Psychology Press, 2013. Print.

Heil, John. Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction. London: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Johnson, Mark. The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Print.

Nath, Shanjendu. “Ryle as a Critique of Descartes’ Mind-Body Dualism.” International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications 3.7 (2013). 2250-3153. Print.

Sayre, Kenneth. Cybernetics and the Philosophy of Mind. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.