A intellectual history of psychology and its involvement with the problem of mind and body

Find articles by Andreas Sommer Monitoring Editor: His research uses the work of German philosopher and psychical researcher Carl du Prel —99 to understand historical developments at the intersection between lateth- and earlyth-century psychology and psychical research. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

A intellectual history of psychology and its involvement with the problem of mind and body

The "stuff" of mind is pure information. Information is neither matter nor energy, though it needs matter for its embodiment and energy for its communication. In ancient philosophy, mind and body formed one of the classic dualismslike idealism versus materialism, the problem of the one monism or the many pluralismthe distinction between essence and existence, between universals and particulars, between the eternal and the ephemeral.

When mind and body are viewed today as a dualismthe emphasis is on the mind, that is to say the information, being fundamentally different from the material brain.

Since the universe is continuously creating new information, by rearranging existing matter, this is an imprtant and understandable difference. Matter and energy is conserved, a constant of the universe.

Information is not conserved, it is the source of genuine novelty. The ancients asked about the existential status of Platonic Ideas. On the other hand, monists can see the mind-body distinction as pure physicalism, since information embodied in matter corresponds to a mere reorganization of the matter.

Would not the interaction between the two have to partake somehow of the character of both?

An Intellectual History of Psychology - Daniel N. Robinson - Google Books

Descartes famously identified the tiny pineal gland as the point of contact between mind and body. Descartes made the mind the locus of freedom. For him, the body is a mechanical system of tiny fibres causing movements in the brain the afferent sensationswhich then can pull on other fibres to activate the muscles the efferent nerve impulses.

This is the basis of stimulus and response theory in modern physiology reflexology. The popular idea of animals as machines included the notion that man too is a machine - the body obeys strictly deterministic causal laws - but that man has a soul or spirit that is exempt from determinism and thus from what is known today as "causal closure.

The Problem of Mental Causation Philosophers who accept the idea that all laws of nature are deterministic and that the world is causally closed still cannot understand how an immaterial mind can be the cause of an action.

On this view, every physical event is reducible to the microscopic motions of physical particles. The laws of biology are reducible to those of physics and chemistry.

The mind is reducible to the brain, with no remainder. For these philosophers of mind, essentially no progress has been made on the problem of mental causation since Descartes. Any additional mental cause would be extraneous, according to Jaegwon Kim.

Since the early twentieth century, quantum mechanics adds the possibility that some processes are indeterministic, but random quantum-mechanical events have generally been thought to be unhelpful by philosophers of mind.

Adding indeterminism to mental events apparently would only make our actions random and our desires the product of pure chance.

If our willed actions are not determined by anything, they say, we are neither morally responsible nor truly free. Whether mental events are reducible to physical events, or whether mental events can be physical events without such a reduction, the interposition of indeterministic quantum processes apparently adds no explanatory power.

And of course if mental events are epiphenomenal, they are not causally related to bodily actions. Epiphenomenal access to quantum physics would not help. Is the molecular biology of a cell reducible to the laws governing the motions of its component molecules, or are there emergent laws governing motions at the cellular level, still different laws at the organ level, at the organism level up to the mental level?

Emergent properties or laws at the higher levels of a physical-chemical-based biological system would have to prevent those higher levels from being reduced to the properties and laws of the base physical level? These emergent properties are not a new kind of "stuff," but they are nevertheless often described as an emergent dualismspecifically a property dualism.

Is it illogical to deny reductionist ideas of bottom-up causation because of indeterministic quantum noise and yet to defend adequately determined downward causation because quantum effects are averaged out by macroscopic objects? Perhaps the most critically important emergent law of all is the abstract idea of determinism itself.

Determinism in the macroscopic world emerges from the indeterministic microscopic quantum world by averaging over vast numbers of atoms and molecules. Even before quantum mechanics, Ludwig Boltzmann knew that the macroscopic gas laws were only adequately determined by the average motions of extremely large numbers of molecules.

Mind as an Experience Recorder and Reproducer Our specific Mind Model grows out of the question of what sort of "mind" would provide the greatest survival value for the lowest or the first organisms that evolved mind-like capabilities. We propose a primitive mind that could only "play back" experiences, reproducing the entire complex of the sensations experienced, together with the emotional response to the original experience pleasure, pain, fear, etc.

The physically realizable equivalent is a non-linear random-access data recorder, where data is stored using "content-addressable" memory the memory address - a string of bits in a digital computer - is the data content itself.

Much simpler than a computer with stored algorithms, a better technological metaphor for ERR might be a multi-channel, multi-track analog video and sound recorder, enhanced with the ability to record smells, tastes, touches, and most important, feelings.

Imagine one channel for each sense, one track for each neuron. Related experiences are likely stored nearby in the many "dimensions" of visual cortex, hearing pathways, olfactory nerves, etc. The ERR model might then explain the philosophical notion of association of ideas.

Introduction: psychical research and the ‘new psychology’

If it is neighboring neurons that fire, they will likely be closely related in some way since they were stored based on the fundamental pattern of information in the experience.

Similar experiences are likely stored in adjacent neurons.

A intellectual history of psychology and its involvement with the problem of mind and body

Note that a particular smell could cause the recall of experiences where that smell was present, and similarly for other senses.The biopsychosocial model considers individuals as well as their health problem and the social context.

It recognizes that health, disease, illness and disability result from complex interactions of biological, emotional, cognitive, social and environmental factors. Start studying History and Systems Final Exam. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

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PSYC Exam Two Study Guide. terms. PSY From early in medical history, curious physicians have investigated the mysteries of the mind–body relationship, developing a field of study called psychosomatic medicine.

PSYC Exam One Study Guide. STUDY. PLAY. Chapter 1: Perhaps the most valuable outcome of the study of the history of psychology is that one will learn the ____.

- Origins of the experimental methods - Mind-body interaction. - A mechanistic conception of the body. Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind First published Fri Apr 18, ; substantive revision Tue May 29, Muslim philosophers considered the quest for knowledge as a divine command, and knowledge of the soul, and particularly of the intellect, as a .

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Mind-Body Problem