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Example research essay topic: Cogito Ergo Sum Mind And Body - 1,376 words

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Where does the body stop and the mind start In the philosophy narrative since early times there were three basic theories that described relationship and connection between mind and body. These theories are as follows: dualism, materialism and phenomenalism. Dualism is based upon the ideas that the physical and mental processes of the body are not interrelated. The proponents of materialism state that mental processes are a specific sort of physical activity. Phenomena lists state that the physical processes are display of mental events. Two latter theories oppose each other, but both of them derive from the idea that only one sort of substance is relevant.

The problem of connection between body and mind events discusses the relations between mental processes and physical events. These theories may be also referred to as the study of the question of what is the essence of human nature. In other words, dualism recognizes existence of both physical and mental sides of human organism, materialism insists that these are physical processes that control the human, and phenomenalism refers all processes of human existence to mental activity. The representatives of neuroscience speak about identity of both mental and physical. Basic ideas of neuroscience can be referred to the ideas of materialism and phenomenalism, but with a little difference. This science regards mental and physical processes as the part of integral unity of mind and body, where both these elements occupy equal roles and act as the system. (Mind-body problem) As this science believes that mind and body create a system, its proponents seek for neural mechanisms that can be regarded as the physical reflection of mental activity.

The subject of consciousness and its reflection in brain activity has become a matter of investigation in the field of this science in the end of the XX century. Before 90 s very few scientists observed the phenomenon of consciousness and there almost were not any attempts to forge a scientific approach to investigate it. At that time consciousness wasnt regarded as the subject of scientific research. Now many experiments and observations are held to find out the essence of relations between physical and mental. (Mind-body problem) Descartes statement cogito, ergo sum, translated as I think, therefore I exist is one of the most famous philosophical statements. The notion of cogito produced much criticism. They mostly discussed the essence of the shift from the process of thinking to the process of existence.

The controversy is that the syllogism demands one more premise: Whatever has the property of thinking, exists, and this premise must have been disproved. One may argue that this premise is evident and cannot be a subject of doubt. (Cogito ergo sum) According to the Descartes writing, substantive heterogeneity of mind and body is easily conceived, and their unity in humans organism is easily recognized with the help of perception experience, which often opposes the criteria of clarity. Thats why one of epistemological implications of mind and body dualism in Descartes system is the dualism of understanding and perception. At the same time, while paying attention to the immanent analyses of Cartesian psychosomatic dualism it is necessary also to mind dualism of pure and empiric I, which is also evidently developed in Descartes writings. (Newman, 2005) In the context of the Cartesian nology the subject for observation were mind regarded as self-evident spiritual substance and mind, connected to body and providing for human existence as psychosomatic identity due to this connection.

Ambivalence of Descartes approach towards I problem, reflected in conflicts between the notions of mind as thinking object and mind as thinking object that is connected to body can serve as explanation of Descartes inconsistency that revealed in his anthropologic calculation. When Descartes brought the notion of pure I to the forefront, he found cogito in psychosomatic dualism and reliable means of self-isolation of pure I and was ready to accept accidental nature of body and mind connection, which was traditionally rejected at scholastic philosophy. When Descartes paid attention to the notion of empiric I and tried to explain the connection and interrelation of mind and body, he often missed strict distinctions of his speculative nology, and often referred to the mind connected with body as to physical. (Newman, 2005) It is necessary to note that when observing the problem of pure I Descartes referred to it as to metaphysical problem, while working out conception of empiric I he often addressed to physics, physiology and other exact sciences. He also tried to reduce subconscious acts to pure physiological functioning of this or that body organ, or raise them to the level of conscious activity. This strict alternative, sketching primary position of actually conscious over unconscious, couldnt further satisfy the philosophers, including those that were influenced by the Descartes idea. Inconsistency of Descartes approach to the problem of consciousness was connected to ambivalence of his anthropological concept.

Discussions about possible relations between mind and body were carried out not only in the sphere of philosophy, medicine also investigated this subject. There are hundreds of historical events that prove that this connection exists. For instance, stories about miracle cures that happen in places that are considered to be sacred are observed my medical committees and commissions to see the nature of these processes and find out the mechanisms that help mind cure body. Officially the connection between body and mind was established in medicine at the end of the XXs century. Now this link is studied in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. This science studies how mental processes may influence physical processes.

The scientists have already discovered and described the processes that occur in nervous system and brain. Their experiments proved that the mental processes affect the functioning of immune system in humans body. (The Mind-BODY Connection) Practice and researches in the field of medicine to a greater or lesser extent allow penetrate into the subject and allow assumption that the system of relations between mind and body is designed as to provide physical and mental processes with equal roles in controlling the processes in the human organism. In the light of this assumption one more admission is also possible. If these connections closely unite physical and mental, it is also possible that certain mental processes may reveal the features that traditionally were regarded as physical and, the physical side of the body may also demonstrate the features that were traditionally regarded as inherent to the mind. This is possible especially since these two sides are interrelated in such a way that it is hard to distinguish between what is physical and what is mental.

The problem of Descartes dualism assumes new meaning when it is regarded from the point of view of psychoneuroimmunology. A film based upon actual data, "Transplanted Memories" provides for amazing facts that add much to the discussion of the dual nature of human identity. It shows that the discussion is far from its end and there is much to be found out on this topic. The film describes new experience which is brought to people with recently transplanted donor organs. These people speak about impressions and memories that were not inherent to them before transplantation.

This means that these memories were kept in the organs they received and revealed being integrated into another organism. Moreover, the relatives of the donors who gave the organs for transplantation recognized the features of their loved ones in the persons that received their organs. This information turns traditional sciences that observe both physical and mental activity upside down. According to traditional psychology, this is the brain where the memory is restored, but the data provided in the film prove that these traditional viewpoints may be mistaken. It also proves that the most relevant of the theories that observe link between mind and body is the one that speaks about these relations as about system consisting of equal parts that function in connection and influence each other. Works Cited Cogito ergo sum.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available at web Newman, Lex. Descartes' Epistemology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. available at web Mind-body problem. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Available at web The Mind-BODY Connection: Granny Was Right, After All. The Rochester Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA. 1995. available at web


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