ARE MENTAL STATES NOTHING MORE THAN BRAIN STATES? by Student`s Name

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Are Mental States Nothing More Than Brain States?
One of the key subdivisions of philosophy is philosophy of mind. The branch explores how mental properties, the mind, consciousness, and mental events functions in association with the physical body, especially the brain (McGinn, 1982). The correlation of the mind to the brain (physical body) is referred to as the mind-body problem (Cowan & Spiegel 2009). It is perceived to be one of the major concerns in philosophy. This paper explores the argument whether mental states are nothing more than brain states.
Mental States and Brain States
The relationship between mental and brain states can best be explained using the identity theory. The theory was put forward due to the unsuccessfulness of behaviorism by two philosophers Ullin Place and John Smart. According to Place and Smart, if states of the mind are physical things, in this case they are perhaps identical to brain states (Smart 2007). Basically, it implies that state of the mind W is nothing more than state of the brain T.
According to the theory, mind processes and states are just like brain processes and states (Smart 2007). However, this does not mean that the brain and the mind are one and the same thing. The mind and the brain are used interchangeably in different occasions. For instance, it can be said that a person has an excellent brain or mind. In this case, the identification of brain and mind is considered as a way of categorizing processes and possibly, brain and mind states. This can be illustrated for example, when someone has a mental image, sees something, or endures pain. According to the identity theory of mind, these are brain procedures rather than being related with brain procedures (Smart 2007). Basically, identity theory puts forward that brain and mind are the same, the states of the brain are similar to the states of the mind, and the sphere of the mental is a division of the sphere of the physical. Supporters of identity theory argue that the claim is a dependent fact regarding how the brain and mind functions (Smart 2007). For instance, they put forth that the claim does not explicate the significance of mental properties.
According to Smart, brain and mind denote similar things (2007). By this, he meant that if brains are one and the same thing with minds, in that case the reverse also applies. This is termed as a strict identity declaration which is rationally balanced. In accordance with some philosophers, although occurrences are brain procedures, they however have significant psychical and non-physical properties, which are occasionally referred to as “qualia”. In this case, the identity theory is seen to deny the subsistence of the non-physical factors.
Mental states are also explained by some philosophers in terms of behaviouristic, which encompass desires, and values. Others, who are referred to as “central state materialists,” put forward that mental states are in reality brain states. Frequently, identity theorists portray themselves as `physicalists` or materialists (McGinn 1989). This means that a person may be a materialist regarding his or her mind, however perceive some things denoted in physics which are not illustrated as material.
The states of mind and brain are also explained by functionalism theory (McGinn 1989). Unlike the identity theory, functionalisms overstress the difference between the two. Some philosophers deem functionalism theory as an itinerary to identity theory. Functionalists delineate mental processes and states with regard to their underlying linkages to behavior. They do not identify them in terms of their neural recognition. Smart, who was a key identity theorist, was also at the base of functionalism. The aspect functionalist resembles the function in biology and mathematics. Identity theory has been criticized with reference to how mental states and brain states are identical. Identity theorists have put forward two types of theories that can be subscribed to. These encompass type identity theory and token identity theory.
Type identity theory put forward that mental states are the same as kinds of brain states. The theory affirms that if an individual`s mental state of distinguishing the red color is W, is similar to his/her brain state Z, therefore it can be held that when the person sees red, he or she would constantly have mental state W thus brain state Z (Wilson 2002). Simply, this means that conscious experiences are grouped into different categories, each having its brain and mental states features. Various objections have been given regarding type identity theory. The critiques argue the theory appears hard to sustain. For instance, if an individual`s component of the brain is injured, it implies that the entire brain will regularly direct around that predicament. This may lead to two diverse states of the brain for supposedly a similar mental state. In this case, the perspective of the mental state appears significant, considering the fact that the state of the mind of experiencing green might lead to a totally dissimilar state of the brain (McGinn 1989). For instance, an individual may feel cold or hot but not because there is associated symbolism.
On the other hand, token identity theory affirms that states of the mind of a person are nothing more than their states of the brain (Smart 2007). Putting this into consideration, there is no room for generalizing classification. Nevertheless, it does not explicate how a person can have reasonably balanced identity statement. This is explained by the reason that one mental state may have numerous and diverse brain states. To be precise, unless an individual may claim that every diverse state of the brain signifies that there exists a wholly and diverse state of the mind. According to the identity theory, if two substances seem to be different even though they are similar, then this implies that they have similar properties that is to say that, all which is factual of one substance are factual of the other (McGinn 1989).
Descartes has also contributed in the field of the philosophy of mind. His theory is referred to as the dualistic theory of the body and mind. In his 2nd Meditation, Descartes terms mind as a “thinking thing,” whose function is to think. According to him, the fundamental nature of an individual is the mind (mental state) instead of the physical (brain state). He implied that the body of an individual is not significant to his/her subsistence. Descartes puts forth that the body of an individual is a physical machine whose functions are explicated in mechanical and scientific stipulations. On the contrary, the mind is not a mechanical or physical thing. Putting into consideration that the mind and the individual were similar, it means that individuals and minds are external in the realm of scientific analysis. In his 6th Meditation, Descartes puts forward that persons are comprised of two different substances the mind and the body. The body is divisible whereas the mind is completely indivisible. The fundamental nature of the mind is thinking.
Descartes faces key challenges whilst explicating what the “thinking thing” (the mind) is, as it should not be the same with the “physical thing” (the brain). This means that the mind is a non-physical division occupying space and thus, cannot by any means be categorized in the physical realm of nature. In order to solve this predicament, Descartes drew heavily and in fact re-invented the traditional belief of a thing as a substratum that underlies and unites the properties of a substance (Cowan & Spiegel 2009). Considering this, the substance is non-physical, whereas its properties are non-physical properties of texture, shape, color, and sound. In summary, Descartes theory puts forth that the intentions, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and memories of a person are of mental substratum. These acts and states are founded on non-physical entity which determines that they are of a certain mind. They also remain similar whilst its components, certain mental state and acts, are always modifying.
The movement from dualism to monism demonstrates that the physical substance is merely the sole type of substance (McGinn 1982). This view shows that mental states are merely brain states. With reference to this, this approach agrees on the close linkage between the mental and brain states. In fact, it asserts that these two states cannot be separated. In order to explain this claim, dualism and monism aligns scientific identity models with identity. For instance, they argue that if water droplets make up a cloud, then the latter can be delineated with reference to its being an accumulation of water droplets. Therefore, explicating underlying linkages between two detachable things poses no problem.
Some philosophers who oppose the argument that mental states are similar to brain states put forth that it is not reasonable to classify the nature of the mind with the fundamental states of the brain. This is based on the fact that a number of mental occurrences are delineated by the manner in which they feel, particularly the states of the mind. For instance, when considering the feeling of pain. It is not reasonable to put forth that pain is actually a kind of neurophysiological occurrence.
In addition, there exists a possibility between the brain states and mental states that cannot be accounted for by MBIT, for instance, if pain is identified with state of the brain X. assuming that another person is examined and found out that they are in brain state X, although they do not feel any kind of pain (McGinn 1982). Does this imply that they must be forced to feel the pain? In this case, it can be said that there is perhaps an error in claims regarding mental and body identities, which does not exist whilst thinking of certain identities including water is said to be H2O. Nevertheless, pain is pain regardless of the states of mind or brain.
The brain mind identity theory can also be used to explain mental and brain states. This can be done through the reductive physicalism which states that what individuals perceive as mental things are actually nothing more that the states of the brain (Cowan & Spiegel 2009). This deduction is significant in that it can be employed in various circumstances. For instance, it can be used to explain the reason why an individual`s purpose may lead to a physical substance movement such as the leg. However, the entire elucidation of a persons actions is composed of the cause and effects of physical substances. Cognitive performance is impacted by brain injury. Research shows that physical treatments can be used with the intention of treating and improving cognitive performance (Nap 2012). According to McGinn (1982, pp.17-18), the states of the mind are similar with the states of the brain. That is to say that physical phenomenon is exactly identical with mental phenomenon.
Conclusion
This paper has focused on the argument that mental states are nothing more than brain states. The relationship between mental and brain states can best be explained using the identity theory. According to Place and Smart, if states of the mind are physical things, in this case they are perhaps identical to brain states. The theory puts forth that the mind processes and states are just like brain processes and states. The mind and the brain are used interchangeably in different occasions. For instance, it can be said that a person has an excellent brain or mind. In this case, the identification of brain and mind is considered as a way of categorizing processes and possibly, brain and mind states. Identity theorists have put forward two types of theories that can be subscribed to. These encompass type identity theory and token identity theory. Type identity theory put forward that mental states are the same as kinds of brain states. The theory affirms that if an individual`s mental state of distinguishing the red color is W, is similar to his/her brain state Z, therefore it can be held that when the person sees red, he or she would constantly have mental state W thus brain state Z. On the other hand, token identity theory affirms that states of the mind of a person are nothing more than their states of the brain. Putting this into consideration, there is no room for generalizing classification.Mental states are also explained by some philosophers in terms of behaviouristic, which encompass desires, and values. Others, who are referred to as “central state materialists,” put forward that mental states are in reality brain states.
Descartes has also contributed in the field of the philosophy of mind. His theory is referred to as the dualistic theory of the body and mind. In his 2nd Meditation, Descartes terms mind as a “thinking thing,” whose function is to think. According to him, the fundamental nature of n individual is the mind (mental state) instead of the physical (brain state). The movement from dualism to monism demonstrates that the physical substance is merely the sole type of substance (McGinn 1982). This view shows that mental states are merely brain states. Some philosophers who oppose the argument that mental states are similar to brain states put forth that it is not reasonable to classify the nature of the mind with the fundamental states of the brain. From this analysis, it is true to say that the states of the mind are nothing more than the states of the brain.
Bibliography
Cowan, S & Spiegel, JS 2009, The Love of Wisdom: A Christian Introduction to Philosophy. B&H Publishing Group, pp. (207- 210).
McGinn, C 1982, The character of mind, Oxford University press, Oxford.
McGinn, C 1989, Can the Mind-Body Problem Be Solved, Mind, New Series, Vol. 98, No. 391, pp. 349 – 366.
Nap, M 2012, Mind, Science and Computation. Manila, De La Salle University Publishing House.
Smart, JJC 2007, The Mind/Brain Identity Theory, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Wilson, B 2002, Simply philosophy. Edinburgh University press, Edinburgh, pp. 26-45.