The Flaw Of McginnS Argument Against Dualism

1307 Words6 Pages
Since the 19th century, the relationship of the mind to the brain has become a deep concern of philosophers. To explain the mind—brain problem, two major perspectives—materialism and dualism—are formulated. Materialism believes that the mind is exactly the same as the brain. This means that the mind just consists of neurons and their electrochemical antics. On the other hand, dualism, which was first established by Rene Descartes in his book, Meditations on First Philosophy, defines the mind and the brain as two totally different objects and they are ideally separable. Since first established in 1643, dualism has been widely accepted by many scientists and philosophers. However, some people, including some famous philosophers, think dualism is flawed and is actually a blind alley. Is it really true that dualism, which has been tested by many eminent philosophers for more than 300 years, is actually flawed? Or are they criticizing dualism because they misunderstand it? In this essay, philosopher Colin McGinn’s “ghost argument”, which is against dualism in his famous book The Mysterious Flame, is used as an example to show how people misunderstand dualism. In The Mysterious Flame, McGinn begins by rejecting both traditional materialism and dualism. He faults the materialism for simply equating conscious experience to brain activities. We cannot get the knowledge of a person’s conscious experience through the study of his brain waves; neither will endless introspection tell us anything on the brain anatomy or the neurons. He then proceeds to attack dualism using “zombie argument” and “ghost argument”. In this essay, I will use Descartes, the first dualist, to show how McGinn’s “ghost argument” misunderstands dualism. Since “if the mind is separate from the body [according to dualism], then…mind can exist without the brain” (McGinn, p.27), McGinn produces a

More about The Flaw Of McginnS Argument Against Dualism

Open Document