The Never-ending Question:
Are We a Mind, a Body or Both?
Of all the topics that are currently occupying the attention of philosophers, the Mind-Body problem is at center stage. It is one of the classical metaphysical issues concerning the relationship between that which is mental and that which is physical. The simple question asked is: what are we? Are we a mind, a body or both? The issue has its origins in the ancient dualism of Plato and since then many ‘solutions’ to the problem have been offered. D.M. Armstrong’s The Mind-Body Problem gives rise to all the possible ‘solutions’ to the problem. In his writings, he accurately depicts the views of others, as well as his own. Armstrong wants it to be clear that “all theories of the mind-body relation get involved in a certain amount of difficulty. The thing that we have to try and judge is what sort of theory seems to come off best [with] all things concerned. It is not and easy task”(20). Out of the many possible theories, the Dualistic approach seems to be the weakest in trying to pose a solution, while the Eliminative Materialistic approach appears to have the strongest hold on answering the never-ending question.
According to Dualism, the human person is composed of two completely different substances: the mind and the body. The body, or physical substance, is essentially located and extended in space, inactive, lifeless and unthinking. The mind, or mental substance, is essentially active, living, thinking, and, though located in time, not located in space. Altogether, “the human person is some sort of union of a mind and a body”(9). This form of Dualism, which seems to be the least plausible in offering a sufficient answer to the mind-body problem, is more commonly referred to as substance dualism. Perhaps the most famous advocate of substance dualism was Rene Descartes, a 17th century philosopher who put forth a tremendous influence on the re...