Thet Paing Soe
Professor James Rowe
14 May 2015
The True Nature of Reality
When it comes to describing the nature of our reality, philosophers have been in search of a system that truly and completely explains everything. It is noteworthy that numerous system have developed over the past few centuries. However, in this paper only four notable theories (dualism, materialism, idealism and transcendental idealism) will be explored. Each theories provide adequate explanation of reality but there are limitations and shortcomings when one contemplate carefully. The theories will be explored and critique by using the mind body problem, The Chinese room, the radical ...view middle of the document...
It is logical to state that “if two thing can exist without each other, then they are not the same thing”. It can be concluded that “body and mind are distinct”. (Rachel James 72). Another justification is The Divisibility Argument quoted in Descartes book:
…there is a great difference between mind and body … body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible. …when I consider the mind, that is to say, myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking thing, I cannot distinguish…any parts…and although the whole mind seems to be united that nothing has been taken away from my mind. And the faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be…said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding to the whole body, yet if a foot, or an arm… is separated from my body, I am aware (Descartes 76).
The essence of Descartes argument is that the mind is indivisible and all extended things can be divided into parts. This suggest that the mind is not an extended thing. Descartes is now able to conclude that the mind is a different substance from the body. It is true, regardless of whether one consider the mind as an immaterial substance or mental activity of the brain, that in a physical nature, the mind cannot be divided like the body. However, modern science has proved that brain damage or other “stimuls” can have significant impact on the mind. This example is supported by the argument of philosopher Ryle Gilbert “theorists are found speculating how stimuli, the physical sources of which are yards or miles outside a person’s skin, can generate mental responses inside his skull, or how decisions framed inside his cranium can set going movements of his extremities” (Ryle Gilbert 328). In addition, the assertion of mind and body as two distinct substance also leads to an unfavorable problem called Mind-Body problem. The problem was brought up by Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia in her letter to Descartes. Elizabeth insists that “…how the human soul can determine the movement of the animal spirits in the body so as to perform voluntary acts—being as it is merely a conscious substance…and contact seems to me incompatible with a thing’s being immaterial” (qtd in Rachel James 74). In other words, how can something that is immaterial or mental, which does not exist spatially and has no physical force, affect something that is physical, which exist spatially and is moved by physical force. This question brought up by Elizabeth points out a vital flaw that persist in Substance Dualism. Another lack of explanation was pointed out by the Radical Emergence Theory. “Why does the immaterial mind exists at all?” It is a well-known fact that “human being begins is a purely physical thing in the womb”. Interestingly, when the “brain reaches a certain level of complexity, a new kind of substance pops into existence” (Rachel James 75). As the philosopher Huxley said “the emergence of mind...