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Unformatted text preview: 1PHIL 110 FUNCTIONALISM In order to clearly understand the theory of Functionalism, it is important to gain some insight into the mind – body problem and the need for the materialist theories. The mind – body problem: There are two main set of problems in the Philosophy of Mind: 1. The relationship between the mind and the body it animates: Mind is regarded as something which is not physical at all, is associated with the mental states such as pain, love, etc. and includes the subject of conscious experience (1). Given, the mind to be conceived as described above, how does something which is non – physical interact with the body (more importantly, the brain) which is physical? How do the components of mind listed above related to the nervous systems, brains or brain states? How does the brain feels pain, love, or is conscious in general? 2. The problem of other minds: Given that, we consider ourselves as conscious being, how could we be ever sure other minds are conscious as well, that they exist, or that they have subjective experiences too in much the same way as we do? In order to find a solution to the above-mentioned problems, the theory of Functionalism came into existence. Functionalism is a materialist solution to the mind – body problem. It is a theory which advocates that mental states do not have an existence independent of the body. It states this more clearly by using an analogy from the field of computer science that the relationship between the mind and the body is analogous to the relationship between a program and the computer that is running it. It coveys that “mental is to physical” is equivalent to “software is to hardware”. In other words, functionalism tries to establish a notion (2) that mental states such as pain, fear, happiness, etc, aren’t something independent of the body (or aren’t something which are 2PHIL 110 identical to brain states), they are simply the “functional” states which are specified by the body (of which brain is a part). Roughly speaking, the mind (and the mental states pertaining to it) is not what your brain is made up by, they are simply what your brain is doing (1). Functionalism explains mind not by virtue of its composition (i.e., what is it made up of or is it essentially what the brain is made up of) but by virtue of its function (i.e., what your brain is doing). It is counted as a materialist solution to the mind – body problem because like other reductive materialist theories, it too tries to establish the fact that everything in the universe is at bottom physical, i.e., made up of matter. It is a rejection of any sort of dualism and is a thesis that bottom physical, i....
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- Fall '08
- Consciousness, Thomas Nagel, subjective experiences, body problem