Philosophy of Mind
Introduction Dualism Behaviourism Identity Theory Functionalism Dennett

Philosophy of Mind:


  Monism and Dualism

Perhaps the best way to introduce the philosophy of mind is to look at the most popular theory: dualism. When I say "popular", I am not however necessarily implying that it is held by most philosophers - it is not. Nor am I trying to argue that it is the theory of mind that best fits all the facts – that is debatable. However, dualism is the most popular theory of mind in that:

• Most non-philosophers hold to this view
• Most religious believers hold to this view
• It is probably the oldest and most widespread theory of mind

So, what is dualism? As the name implies, it is a view that implies that there are two separate and distinct substances that make up a human being: mind and body. In religious terms, the mind is sometimes equated with the soul - with Plato and Aristotle, for instance, where the Greek term nous is used to describe the part of the individual that survives death.

For the purposes of this module, the term "mind" will be used as a general term to cover any conscious substance that, it may be argued, is separate from the physical body.