Philosophy paper

Philosophy paper - Jared Cassier Brindell Philosophy April 6 2008 Functionalism Currently the most favored and recognized theory of the nature of

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Jared Cassier Brindell Philosophy April 6, 2008 Functionalism Currently the most favored and recognized theory of the nature of minds is functionalism, primarily among philosophers, artificial intelligence researchers and scientists. In spite the fact that functionalism accomplished its greatest distinction as a speculation of the state of mind in the later half of the 20th century, it has roots dating back to age-old philosophy. Such philosophers who are believed to be responsible for the early antecedents of this theory are Aristotle whom argued in his writings “De Anima” the meaning of the soul and what that means for theories of the mind (McKeon). Functionalism is often associated and compared with behaviorism, which states that in essence the mental and physical state are equal. In addition there is nothing else beyond knowing someone’s state by his or her behavior. One could say that in functionalism there in lies a contrast against dualism due to the fundamentals that define it. So what exactly is functionalism? This very literal and almost commonsense theory of the mind incorporates the state of the brain and physical state of the body. It is what makes a mental state defined. In his writing “Behaviorism, Materialism, and Functionalism”, Paul Churchland maps out the structure of a mental state by means of functionalism: “According to functionalism, the essential or defining feature of any type of mental state is the set of causal relations it bears to (1) environmental effect on the body, (2) other types of mental states, and (3) bodily behavior.” (Churchland, 317)
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In other words mental states rely on what the body is experiencing, for example pain is a typical example of functionalism because it involves both physical and mental trauma. When you are experiencing pain physically your brain tells you that you are experiencing distress. Mental states can also depend on other types of mental conditions, for example irritability is a common symptom that goes hand in hand with depression. If you were depressed your brain would tell you that you’re irritable to take your mind off your depression, causing you to be in an unpleasant state of mind. In Andrew Brook and Robert Stainton’s “Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course PHIL 1000 taught by Professor Heathwood, during the Spring '07 term at Colorado.

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Philosophy paper - Jared Cassier Brindell Philosophy April 6 2008 Functionalism Currently the most favored and recognized theory of the nature of

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