The Mind-Body Problem
  • davidmihjn December 2011
    The mind-body comes about because humans have a drive to know and understand everything. Humans will ask such questions as: What is the relationship between myself and my body? What are mental beings? What is the conscious knowledge of humans as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals? What is truth? The answer that rational people judge to be true, the answer that is based on the evidence is that there is no answer. It is a mystery. This is the answer given in metaphysics textbooks (See The One and The Many, by Norris Clarke).

    To grasp this insight, it is necessary to compare the mind-body type questions with questions humans ask about things they see and hear. For example: What caused the Big Bang? There are four possible answers: 1) God did it. 2) An angel did it. 3) The universe is not intelligible. 4) The scientific method will give an answer eventually. The evidence supports # 4). There is no evidence for # 1, # 2, and # 3.

    Atheists will sometimes say "the mind is a mystery," but this doesn't mean they understand because they think the Big Bang is a mystery. Understanding the mind-body problem means understanding the difference between questions that come from our ability to make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge and questions that come from our sense observations.

    In your website I noticed that you spoke about people having a "materialist perspective." You are implying that atheists marshal the evidence and decide that materialism is true. I don't agree with this. Atheists fail at the level of intelligence. They can't grasp the theory that there is no answer.

    The reason they can't grasp this solution is that it leads to God's existence. It leads to God's existence because it means the only thing you can say about humans is that other humans exist. In other words, humans are finite beings. An infinite being exists because finite beings need a cause. In Western religions, the finite being is called God.

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith December 2011
    David - I'm sure plenty of atheists could "grasp the theory that there is no answer". After all, as far as I know, most atheists do not think that we are infinite beings, endowed with minds able to comprehend the deepest mysteries of the universe and human nature. But (again, as far as I know), most atheists do not reason that because we are finite beings, there must be a God. Most of them are too intelligent to make such a leap, contrary to your generalisation about atheists' lack of intelligence...
  • davidmihjn December 2011
    Why do you think that atheists grasp the solution of the mind-body problem judged to be true by Catholic philosopher? Do they ever discuss the Catholic solution and explain why it is not a good one? I gave three quotes from atheists about the mind-body problem and they only mention materialism and dualism. They don't mention the idea that humans are embodied spirits or indefinabilites.

    As to the proof of God's existence, atheists are ignorant. The following version of the cosmological argument was undoubtedly written by an atheist because the author doesn't understand it:

    1) Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

    2) A causal loop cannot exist.

    3) A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

    4) Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.


    God is not a "First Cause." God is an infinite being. An infinite being exists because a finite being needs a cause. The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is online and has a very long discussion of the cosmological argument. There is nothing in it about finite beings needing a cause and God being an infinite being.

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith December 2011
    David - you're a moving target! You say there is no solution to the mind-body problem, and then you say there is a solution!

    No solution: "The answer that rational people judge to be true, the answer that is based on the evidence is that there is no answer. It is a mystery."

    A solution: "Why do you think that atheists grasp the solution of the mind-body problem judged to be true by Catholic philosopher?" (emphasis added)

    And I still don't see the connection between there being (or not being) a solution to the mind-body problem, and the cosmological argument. If we could solve the mind-body problem, would that mean we are infinite beings? I think not.
  • davidmihjn December 2011
    Humans are finite beings because we have free will. Free will means that we possess a center of action that makes us unified with respect to ourselves and different from other beings. You exist and I exist, but I am not you and you are not me. We are two different beings. In other words, we are finite beings.

    Many people think that free will is an illusion. The following quote is from Lee M. Silver (Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life, p. 59) Silver is a professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University:

    "Free will is commonly interpreted to mean 'the power of directing our own actions without [total] constraint by necessity or fate.' The conviction that human beings are endowed with such a power is pervasive, even more so than a belief in the human soul…As a philosophical concept, free will is like an onion whose skin has been completely peeled away: at its core, it ceases to exist." (p. 59)

    Professor Silver lives his life as if he had free will, but in philosophical discussions he says it is an illusion. There is a similar quote from Carl Sagan: "Carl Sagan is the name given to a collection of molecules."

    What is free will? What is the relationship between myself and my body? These two questions are mind-body type questions.

    We can comprehend free will because we have it. But we can't definite it. Another way of saying this is that humans are indefinabilites that become conscious of their own existence. Another way is: humans are embodied spirits or spirited bodies. In other words, there is no solution to the mind-body problem. It is a mystery.

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith December 2011
    Does God have free will? Does that mean God is finite too?

    I'm afraid every post in this discussion makes me even less able to understand what you are trying to say... I think I'm going to exercise my free will and bow out!
  • SimonSimon December 2011
    ...and I've deleted David's last post and closed the thread right here as it is no longer constructive!
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