From Dualism to Monism

Popper or KuhnHow can we explain the progress from Body- Mind Dualism to Monism?

Nadja- Raphaela Baer I 6015944 Philosopy of Science COR 1002 Ceren Pekdemir

Maastricht, 16.12.2011

2 Main Part p.11. Philosophy of Science.5-8 Conclusion p. 2-8 o Body.4 p.Nadja.8 References p.Raphaela Baer. I 6015944. COR1002 16.Mind Dualism versus Monism o Popper versus Kuhn o Kuhn or PopperWhich account is more suitable in explaining the progress from Dualism to Monism? p.2-3 p.9 1 .2011 Agenda Introduction p.

Thus.Nadja. This quotation entails the major issue with which António R. he has opposed his assumption about the ontology of human nature to the past Dualistic view.Mind Dualism to Monism? Introduction “My concern deals with the Dualistic notion with which Descartes separates the mind […] from the body”1(Damasio. COR1002 16. 328). The question underlying the present paper is how this opposition came about. Damásio has been involved in his book on Descartes‟ error. Thereby. Main Part Body.mind problem and is central to the two approaches called Dualism and Monism. 2 . It will be concluded that Kuhn‟s view is more appropriate than Popper‟s theory for illustrating the transition from Dualism to Monism. This question is also known as the body. Body.11. Why did the progress from Dualism towards Monism occur? In order to answer this question this essay will explain the scientific progress from Descartes‟ Dualism to Damásio‟s Monism by applying and contrasting two accounts stemming from the philosophy of science. On the one hand. 1999. Philosophy of Science. the mind and the 1 Translated by the author.Raphaela Baer. the research core of the present essay concerns which of the two accounts is more suitable for explaining why the shift from Descartes‟ Dualism towards the Monistic view supported by Damásio has proceeded. p. These two views are hold to be opposing as each of them views the relation between body and mind in completely different ways. It will be dealt with the theories provided by Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. These coeval philosophers are elementary of the present essay as they have put forward different accounts of how science progresses.Mind Dualism versus Monism Investigations of the human nature have often put special emphasis on the question in how far body and mind are related. Thus.2011 Kuhn or Popper? How can we explain the progress from Body.Mind Dualism may be defined as the belief that the mind is strictly separated from physical entities and therefore separated from those on an ontological level. I 6015944.

This injury led to significant changes in Gage‟s behavior and personality and hence in his mental entity. 3 . Passer. 2 In the first place. Descartes‟ Dualism can be referred to the general definition stated above. 1999. 2007.Mind Dualism and Monism. However. severe lesions in his prefrontal cortex were caused which is one part of the physical entity. 2002). 2002). Garber. he has stressed that those two entities are connected to each other through the pineal gland suited in the brain. 3 Phineas Gage. 2011).2011 physical entity do not interact with each other. In contrast to Descartes. COR1002 16. 2009. he used the popular case of Phineas Gage3 to show that Descartes‟ Dualistic approach has been wrong (Robinson & Howard. Damásio has stressed the interaction of the physical entity and the mind as having an actual effect on human behavior and consciousness. However.Nadja. & Bremner. 1999. Damasio. Hence. Consequently. René Descartes is mostly associated with philosophy. there is a reciprocal dependence between mind and body. Smith. It is crucial to mention that there have been various streams within both approaches. the following paragraph will introduce the notions of scientific progress hold by Popper and Kuhn. 1999. Passer et al. The present paper focuses on two influential scientists2. I 6015944. On the other hand. but one can also call him a scientist due to his influential works in the domain of science.11. Descartes and Damásio which serve as agents for Body. Thereby. this essay puts the emphasis on the approaches according to Descartes and Damásio because the research for this essay has been triggered by Damásio‟s criticism towards Descartes‟ view on body and mind (Damasio. there are many deviant attitudes among influential scientists and philosophers who could account for investigating the progress from Body. Instead. Garber. Monism holds that mind and body together build one entity and cannot be distinguished from each other. 2009. Robinson & Howard. Passer. survived an accident in which an iron rod was driven through his head. Mcleod. In order to integrate Damásio‟s critique towards Descartes into the debate of progress in science. Damasio. according to the Monist view (Damasio. 2011. Fundamentally. Holt.. This has been demonstrated by Damásio by means of modern neuroscientific methods. But this linkage does not affect the separation of body and mind. 2009.Raphaela Baer. one patient of Damásio. he has deviated from the view that mind and body do not interact. 2011. 1999). Philosophy of Science.Mind Dualism towards Monism (Robinson & Howard. Damásio has established that the physical and mental entities of humans interact with each other and thus are interrelated. On the basis of this and subsequent similar occurrences.

Kuhn. Both have reflected on how scientific progress can be achieved based on the replacement of one established theory by improved one.Nadja. by falsification one can come closer to truth.2011 Popper versus Kuhn Concerning progress in science Kuhn as well as Popper have prevailed as “two of the greatest 20th century philosophers of science” (Notturno. Thereby. 2002. 1970. Philosophy of Science. 1999. 1971). 225). Curd. Kuhn. As soon as any observation is incongruent with a particular theory. p. 1973). the method of falsification is based on logic. Kuhn. focus on scientific progress. 1998. 1999. This shift from one paradigm to a new. 1959. Within the state of crisis the old paradigm is usually rejected and an alternative proposed. Those serious anomalies are detected within a phase of normal science where scientists engage in solving problems posed by anomalies. Whereas Kuhn has put forward his theory on scientific revolution. Popper has emphasized falsification as methodology to come approximate truth4 and hence achieve progress in science (Chalmers. 1998. When a paradigm shift has taken place the particular scientific community views the world from a completely different viewpoint. According to Kuhn. If the scientists cannot solve those defects they lose confidence in the current paradigm and a crisis sets in. 1973. scientific progress is achieved through scientific revolutions that are caused by serious anomalies inherent to a paradigm. but they have divergent underlying explanations for this assumption (Curd. Anomalies are present in each paradigm. Popper has stated that those theories are preferable over others which are best testable and have not been falsified yet. but they become serious if they are striking at the fundamentals of the paradigm and stand the attempts of the scientific community to be removed. 2002.11. Curd.1970). Popper has used the term „demarcation‟ to distinguish those theories from falsified ones which cannot lead to progress (Chalmers. incompatible one is what Kuhn terms „scientific revolution‟ (Garber. 2000. 2000). Popper. However. As a consequence. Popper. 1970). Kuhn. Kuhn. Garber. COR1002 16. Popper and Kuhn.Raphaela Baer. Notturno. 4 According to Popper. Kuhn. Both. 4 . but mankind does not have access to it. there is truth. this logical inconsistency must be immediately ruled out by means of falsification. 1999. This context is what Kuhn calls „incommensurability‟ (Chalmers. 1998. 1959. I 6015944. preferable theories constitute to „good science‟.

as Kuhn would claim. Kuhn‟s theory emerges as being more appropriate than Popper‟s one to account for the progress in neuroscience. Descartes and his fellow researchers have solved the problem that there is some kind of connection between body and mind in the brain and have enabled the paradigm to persist. Therefore the case of Phineas Gage has displayed an observation that is logically inconsistent with the theory that body and mind are two separated entities. From the Kuhnian point of view. Due to this emerged problem falsification has been necessary to ensure scientific progress.11.2011 Kuhn or Popper. According to the notion of demarcation. let us view the neuroscientific progress from Popper‟s and Kuhn‟s point of views. Before Descartes has stated that body and mind are linked via the pineal gland there appeared to be no connection between the mental and physical entities at all. 5 . in a phase of normal science. the scientific community surrounding Descartes had confidence in the paradigm holding the mind as ontologically separated from the body. To start with. However. However. According to Kuhn. I 6015944.Raphaela Baer.which account is more suitable in explaining the progress from Dualism to Monism? As the two philosophical approaches of Popper and Kuhn are aimed at scientific progress. Thus. Popper would argue that the progress in neuroscience based on Damasio‟s findings must have involved falsification as a tool to approximate truth. Descartes‟ linkage of those entities was an addition to the already existing paradigm. Philosophy of Science. Thus. 2000. COR1002 16. those streams of monism are not dealt with in this paper as it is Damasio‟s work are commonly used as basis for criticism towards Descartes‟ Dualism. For this reason Damasio‟s findings concerning the relation between body and mind have constituted 5 In fact there have already been notions of monism before Damasio has discovered the interaction between body and mind. the two accounts are partially incongruent (Notturno. Chalmers. However. Damásio‟s theory must be preferred over Descartes‟ Dualism as it has been more testable due to neuroscientific techniques and advanced knowledge. Descartes‟ theory must necessarily have been false. Furthermore. as Popper and Kuhn have provided different explanations for progress in science. Moreover.Nadja. 1999). Popper would argue that it is still preferable to the overthrown Dualistic approach. but did not pose a threat to it because it was still consistent with the basic assumption that body and mind are independent entities. with the advent of modern neuroscience5 the scientific community supporting Descartes‟ Dualism has lost confidence in this paradigm. both may account in some way for the transition from Descartes‟ Dualism to Damásio‟s contributions to the Monistic view. as Monism has not been falsified yet.

In how far does this property account for progress in neuroscience? According to Popper. it is questionable whether the progress from Dualism to Monism entailed more than a replacement of general laws. 7 One example for this shift is the increasing trend of alternative medicine which is based on the view that body and mind are dependent on each other. this was not 6 One example for modern neuroscientific test methods is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Philosophy of Science. As this discovery has been literally inconsistent with the theory that body and mind are separated entities. If a patient has physical pain a treatment psychopathological investigation may be an effective treatment. the law of the separation of body and mind has been overthrown by Damasio by illustrating that the human nature acts in congruence with laws of Monism. 2009). If it was only this change in lawful principles. Thus. Thus.Mind Dualism has been rejected.11. By using this method Damásio has discovered empirically that there have been changes in the neural activity of Phineas Gage since he has suffered from the lesion in the prefrontal cortex. how can we explain the far-reaching character of the transition from Dualism towards Monism? Is it not the case that our present world view is heavily affected by the way we define the ontology of body and mind? Whereas Popper‟s approach falls short to deal with these questions. Modern neuroscientific techniques6 have been used as evidence for the Monistic view on the human nature (Raichle. 6 . Kuhn has put forward that a revolution involves a severe change in the way mankind views the world. it would have been necessary to immediately abandon the existing Dualist approach in order to progress towards truth. Passer et al. Thereby. the progress from Dualism to Monism has affected us not only in scientific practice based on established laws. However.Nadja. I 6015944. However. Hence. This replacement concerns a change in general laws (Notturno. but also in the way we perceive human nature7. there would have been a mere replacement of the Dualist approach by Monism. the replacement of Descartes‟ Dualism by the modern notion of Monism has had revolutionary character and in this sense this paradigm shift has contributed significantly to scientific progress in a non. This technique detects changes in blood flow in the brain and thereby indicates certain kinds of neural activity. When taking Popper‟s view on science it is worth questioning why the theory of Dualism has not been falsified after the discovery of Descartes that body and mind are somehow connected via the pineal gland.Raphaela Baer. 2009.2011 to a serious anomaly threatening the existence of the prevalent paradigm.cumulative way. our changed worldview has affected the way we deal with body and mind. Due to the occurrence of the serious anomaly a period of crisis has set in and the paradigm holding Body. Popper and Kuhn both stress some kind of noncumulative nature of progress (Chalmers. COR1002 16. 2000). 1999).

To conclude this section it is worth mentioning that the two approaches by Popper and Kuhn can be both applied to the progress from 7 . Kuhn‟s approach encompasses the complexity of testing situations as it holds that the paradigm changes due to the occurrences of serious anomalies as opposed to anomalies that are present in every paradigm (Kuhn. appears to be more applicable to the shift from Descartes to Damásio. I 6015944. 1999. It might have been the fact that Descartes‟ Dualism was based on bold conjectures which made it falsifiable from Popper‟s point of view (Chalmers.Duhem Thesis. the Quine. 1999).Raphaela Baer. rather than rejecting Descartes‟ theory conclusively when facing the first problems.1971). a complex process of shifting from Dualism to Monism may account for the transition from Descartes‟ Dualism to the modern view on body and mind. For example. COR1002 16. Thereby it was possible for the Dualist paradigm to endure and develop further in a period of normal science until Damásio‟s findings have evoked serious anomalies. Chalmers.1959. Popper. instead of our modern sense of empirical testing (Damasio. Was it really Descartes‟ theory that was wrong? Or were the underlying laws and instruments crucial for the failure of dualism? It must not have been conclusively the theory proposed by Descartes that was erroneous.Duhem Thesis demonstrates that Popper‟s point of view may not adequately account for the shift from Dualism to Monism. The Kuhnian view. 1998). This thesis holds that a theory cannot be conclusively falsified as there is the possibility that some part of the complex test situation other than the theory has been responsible for an emerging error (Chalmers. at this point Popper‟s falsificationism has failed to be appropriately applied to the progress from Dualism to Monism.2011 the case as the Dualistic approach has further existed until the onset of Monism.11. Another problem with Popper‟s account can be explained by the Quine. At Descartes‟ time research depended on mere broad conjectures. 1970.Nadja. Philosophy of Science. Instead. The seemingly fact that body and mind are linked by the pineal gland was no serious anomaly and hence did not evoke a crisis. it could have been that the lack of empirical testing has constituted to the shortcomings of Dualism. 1999. Rather than the theory itself. Consequently.mind problem by means of investigating the case of Phineas Gage. Curd. 1999). Thus. Damásio has made use of advanced neuroscientific techniques and knowledge to discover the body. but also the auxiliary assumptions or initial conditions that have constituted to the progress from Dualism to Monism. Thus. Popper. holding that there are always anomalies present within a paradigm.

Raphaela Baer. I 6015944.2011 Dualism towards Monism. it is worth remarking that. Conclusion The present paper has shown that the progress from Descartes‟ Dualism towards the Monism hold by Damásio can be illuminated from different perspectives.body problem. This application has shown to be more suitable for illustrating the transition from Dualism to Monism. According to Popper‟s approach. To conclude. This view entails some shortcomings concerning the progress from Dualism towards Monism. the present state of neuroscience is not at its finite end. In order to avoid those deficiencies. 8 . This approach is congruent with the history of the progress from Dualism to Monism and therefore more suitable than Popper‟s view.mind separation to the Monistic ontology. However. COR1002 16. Descartes‟ theory had to be falsified as it was inconsistent with the findings of Damásio. one can also apply Kuhn‟s theory of scientific revolution based on paradigm shifts. However. there is no need to completely dismiss the latter as it can explain at least some parts of the scientific progress concerning the mind.Nadja.11. according to both accounts having put forward in this paper. but will still progress in some way. the focus has been put on the coeval philosophers Popper and Kuhn which both have stressed scientific progress. it is Popper‟s view which falls short at some points and therefore it appears to be more suitable to base on Kuhn‟s notion of scientific revolution when dealing with the transition from the body. Kuhn comprises complex shifts from one paradigm to an incompatible new one and thereby accounts for possible inconsistencies that do not threaten the belief in a paradigm. Thereby. Philosophy of Science.

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