psych notes part 2 (test 1)

psych notes part 2 (test 1) - Mind-Body Problem One of the...

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Mind-Body Problem One of the “classical” problems in psychology is the mind-body problem . What is the nature of the relationship between the mind and body? - Does one influence the other, or are they independent? This problem has been given different names. - For example, on psychiatry , it is called the brain-behavior problem. - A much better name for it would be the mind-brain problem. Some proposed solutions to the mind-body problem: - dualism (there have been many varieties); - materialism. 1. Dualism (Plato, Descartes) As a philosophical position, dualism has been around since ancient times. Many people believe (erroneously) that Réné Descartes “invented” dualism. He did not “invent” dualism. He came up with “interactive dualism.” Interactive dualism was Descartes’ notion that the soul and the body interacted. When he dissected many animals brains, including human brains, he discovered the pineal gland in human brains. - He believe (incorrectly) that no animal brains contained the pineal gland. - But his biggest error was to infer that, because there was only one such structure in the brain (rather than paired structures in both hemispheres), this structure must be the locus of the interaction between the soul and the body. - Note that Descartes’ error here is an example of “arguing beyond the data.” Réné Descartes believed that the universe consists of two kinds of stuff: - stuff that takes up space ( res extensa ) = matter; - stuff that can think ( res cogitans ) = the soul, or mind. Descartes said all animal bodies (including human) are “ automata .” An “ automaton ” (a machine that moves itself) is self-animating. - It does not require a vital principle , or soul, to animate it. Thus, for Descartes, the body is a machine, and the mind is something else (i.e., “the ghost in the machine”). Proponents of dualism have had many problems reconciling the position with the facts.
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For example, how do they suppose (i.e., what is their explanation for) the mind interacts with matter (cf. the movie “ Ghost ,” or the cartoon character “ Casper the Friendly Ghost ”)? Also, how do they explain the fact that the functioning of the mind is so intimately connected with the details of the brain? - Electrical stimulation, surgery, disease (e.g., stroke) in the brain all affect the mind. - In short, the life/death of the brain = the life/death of the mind. Materialism Scientific Psychology assumes a form of physicalism called materialism , which says that observable phenomena are explained by natural causes. Materialism is part of a monistic approach. It is opposed to dualism , which adds something immaterial to what is physical. Thus, fundamentally, all
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This note was uploaded on 10/03/2008 for the course PSYC 100 taught by Professor Capo during the Spring '08 term at Maryland.

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psych notes part 2 (test 1) - Mind-Body Problem One of the...

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