In addition to such questions as do we
share the same reality and what is real, philosophers debated
what makes people human, or more precisely “Are the mind and body
separate?” One group believed that the body is
separate from the mind, also called the soul or psyche.
This position is called dualism. For dualists, the mind can exist without the
body; consequently the soul can exist after death. The opposing view is there is only one
aspect. This view is called monism.
The majority of monists hold the view that all that exists is the body. But some monists hold that all exists
is the spirit. Sometimes called the father of modern
psychology, Rene Descartes was born in La Haye, France in 1596. Although he came from a wealthy family,
he was in poor health most of his life. Educated at the college of La Fleche, a Jesuit school, Descartes believed that
God created the universe, set it in motion and left it alone.
He held that since God was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the
universe, it is possible to study the universe and
its laws without making theological statements. Descartes maintained that animals were
basically machines. And like annals man’s body is a machine but he has a soul. In his view the soul is
for interconnected with the body than either St.Thomas or St. Augustine. And unlike Aristotle, Descartes knew where
the soul resides. He maintained that the soul and body
come together in the pineal gland. it’s called the pineal gland because it
is a small pinecone shaped gland that has do duplicates and it is located
in the middle the brain. According to Descartes, the eyes send gases through the nerves (hollow tubes) to the pineal gland,
and make an impression on it. That’s why the eyes reveal the inner
soul. These gases which were thought to be distilled from blood were called animal spirits. In the same way that drinks which contain distilled alcohol are called distilled spirits. Although he compared
the body to a machine, Descartes believed in psycho-physical
interaction. The body influences the soul through perception, and the soul influences the body to
speak, move and act. Sayings attributed to Descartes include: I think therefore I am.
Each problem I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.
Except for our own thoughts, there’s nothing absolutely in our power. if you would be a seeker after Truth, it
is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt as far as possible all things. In order to improve the mind, we ought less,
to learn than to contemplate.
It is not enough to have a good mind, the main thing is to use it well. An optimist may see a light where there
is none but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? It is easy to hate and it is difficult
to love. This is how the whole scheme of things
Descartes’ solution to the mind-body problem was to choose both mind and body. In
contrast Thomas Hobbes chose a monistic view. He asserted that only the body exists. After visiting Galileo in 1635, Hobbles was convinced that the universe is
composed only of matter and motion. For him, man is a machine whose mental
activity was reducable to the motion of atoms the brain. Hobbes was a physical monist who maintained
that mental activity was a function of the brain. And a free-will, spirit and mind were
illusions. Although Hobbes was friends with Francis
Bacon, and served as a secretary for a short time, he rejected Bacon’s inductive reasoning
a favor the deductive reasoning preferred by his other friends, Galileo and Descartes. Hobbes concluded that people
are neither basically good or bad. They are neutrally hedonistic, self-oriented. Hobbes reintroduced Plato’s and Aristotle’s
concept with association of ideas. He held that ideas tend to follow each
other like cars in a train. These trains of thoughts are often unguided and
rambling but they become orderly when two ideas
are similar. Quotes attributed to Hobbs include:
Leisure is the mother of philosophy. The universe is corporal. All that
is real is material, and what is not material is not real.
Of the voluntary acts every man, the object is some good to himself. Appetite with an opinion obtaining is called hope. The same without such opinion: despair.
His attributed last words were: I am about to take my last voyage, a great
leap into the dark. In the 17th century, Baruck Spinoza proposed a sort of
neutral monism. In his view, God has no personality. He
reasoned that if God and nature are names for the same substance, then there’s only one set of rules governing everything.
Consequently, Descartes was wrong. The body in the soul are not separate;
they are the same thing. And if there’s no separate spiritual
life, the Bible, what Christians call the Old Testament,
is a collection of metaphors and allegories. Spinoza’s views were not popular with
his Jewish community. Partly because they were in opposition to his
theological heritage and partly because his community was
afraid the few freedoms they had in Amsterdam would be revoked by the offended Christians.
So in 1656, they excommunicated Spinoza
and shunned him from their community. The 17th century Irish clergyman George
Berkeley was also a monist. But unlike Hobbes, Bark-lee (or Berk-lee) proposed that all
that exists is the mind. Presented as an apologetic, Bishop
Barkley argued that knowledge is based on perception. There’s no reality in the perception
itself, it is the mind which interprets the sensations. A spiritual monist, Berkeley held that
physical objects are composed of ideas. He reasoned that the universe has spirits
which perceive and ideas which are perceived. Perceiving
presupposes a mind. Since we share many perceptions, the
source of these perceptions must be God’s mind. In mathematics, Barkley is best known for
his attack on the assumptions underlying Newton’s calculus. He knew the calculus was more like a
religion than a science, since its foundations were not well
understood. In philosophy, Berkeley was an extreme empirist.
All we know comes from our perceptions. He added the twist that perceptions
require a mind but his underlying principles did not include innate ideas or pre-wired
categorizations. Quotes attributed to Berkeley include:
All the choir of heavens and furniture of earth–in a word all those bodies which compose the fame of the world— have not any substance without a mind. We have first raised the dust and then complain we cannot see. From my own being, and from the dependency
I find in myself and my ideas, I do by an active reason necessarily infer
the existence of a God and all things created in the mind of
God. What is mind? No matter.
What is matter? Nevermind

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